Set Balal Free!

6 Nov

Balal Parveez is 22 years old and has been in the USA since he was five years old. After a faulty asylum petition by a lawyer, Balal was the only one of his 9 siblings that wasn’t able to obtain legal residence in the U.S. He is currently detained at Broward Transitional Center in Florida, suffering from physical and emotional hardship.

By: Juan Rodriguez

I visited Balal this weekend. I was worried, hearing that his depression had worsened again this week and he was losing his appetite completely. It alarmed me because I knew he was being given pain relief injections for his health condition. I awaited the weekend visitation period unsure if I might hear first from a local hospital.

I waited nearly half an hour for the guards to call him into the visitation room (also the cafeteria). As I panicked for Balal, I couldn’t help but immediately also miss my dad, as the fathers our current Administration tries to label as “criminal” squeezed their small kids in their arms with starving adoration.

When Balal was finally escorted into the room, I told myself that I needed to be strong for him… bring him motivation and hope as he carries the burden of the injustice in our community that many could never imagine, and wish never to discover. I gave him a careful hug, keeping in mind the stitches from his recent surgery, and wishing I never had to let him go.

It’s been 10 months Juan”, he tells me, looking down into his palms.

They put Britto paintings on the walls here to try to make the place seem nice, but you can’t fool a person that knows they are trapped inside a jail, for no reason. I’ve never done anything wrong to anybody.”

What kills you is the time… stretching deeper and deeper into an abyss of uncertainty. You start forgetting how to recognize happiness and feel like you’re going brain-dead. I was studying for my degree in biotechnology… and our government keeps me here for a corporate profit, working every day for $1 a day, knowing that won’t even get me a minute of a phone call home nor a cup of coffee.”

I told him about how this past week, his petition received over 10,000 signatures because others, too, want to end this injustice. He’s grateful to the people helping to share the petition and to his sister who got this campaign going for him:

“My sister and I -we’re fighters. We get it from our mom. Our mom gets so tired but she never stops. Her heart is her power… and she passed that onto us. I wish I could hold them both. I love and miss them so much.”

He also mentions his wife:

“My wife and I both are eager to someday meet our future kids. I want to be strong for them and teach them about the right and beautiful things in this world we all need to fight for. I want them to grow up someday and be able to tell their friends:‘my dad is a good man that has always helped people.‘”

Then visitation period ended.

I gave Balal another careful hug and thought to myself: “Don’t worry Balal. I can’t forget you. You’re family now.”

He raised his eyes at me and showed a glimpse of a weak smile.

I walked outside the detention center and met the wind and warm Florida sunlight striking my face. I daydreamed the day when I’ll be able to drive Balal to the beach to be surrounded by his wife and family; by the thousands that are signing his petition, and those beyond that are connected to his story.

I believe in that day with all my heart. With YOUR help, we can make it happen.


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