Check-in with ICE leads to order to leave country after 20 years

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nestor marchi
Nestor Marchi, who has worked in the Greensboro aviation industry for two decades, with his son, Andy (photo by Jordan Green)

A 59-year-old aviation worker who has lived in Greensboro for two decades since overstaying a visa is suddenly ordered to leave the country after reporting to ICE in March.

Nestor Marchi, a 59-year-old aviation worker in Greensboro, likely doesn’t fit anyone’s idea of the “bad hombres” then-candidate Donald Trump spoke of during the third presidential debate last October, when he said, “One of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords, all of the bad ones — we have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out.”

An aviation worker in his native Brazil since the age of 17, Marchi came with his wife to Miami in 1994 in the hopes of giving their son a better life, and overstayed a 6-month visa. The aviation industry in southeast Florida was encountering trouble, and in 1996 Marchi leapt at an opportunity to take a job at Timco, a company in Greensboro that was expanding and paying good wages. Acquired by Haeco in 2014, Timco specialized in maintenance, repair and overhaul of commercial aircraft.

Marchi was apprehended in a 2004 immigration raid, which put him out of work for a couple years and plunged him into health troubles. But he struck a deal with the US Department of Homeland Security to assist the government in investigations into fraud, waste and abuse in the aviation industry in exchange for a work permit. He dutifully showed up for regular check-ins at the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in Charlotte, at first every 30 days and eventually once a year. Aside from overstaying his visa in 1994, Marchi has maintained a nearly spotless record. A check of North Carolina criminal offenses reveals only two traffic violations — a conviction for an expired tag in Guilford County in 2004 and speeding ticket in Rowan County the following year.

Marchi, who suffers from congestive heart failure and diabetes, continued to work to support his family until March 10 when he reported to ICE for his annual check-in. Instead of renewing his work permit, the agency ordered Marchi to come back on May 31 with proof that he’d purchased an airline ticket to Brazil and to leave the country by June 15.

President Trump’s immigration policy, outlined in a Jan. 25 executive order entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” expanded enforcement priorities to include a wide range of undocumented immigrants, including people even suspected of criminal activity and people who “have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency.” By not making particular undocumented people an enforcement priority, the executive order essentially made everyone a priority.

Despite the policy change, ICE has continued to tout its role in deporting criminal aliens. The agency publicized a 5-day enforcement action in southeast Texas last month resulting in 95 arrests involving undocumented people with convictions for homicide, aggravated assault, burglary and drug possession; 13 were for immigration violations. Patrick Contreras, the field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Houston, declared, “Public safety remains a top priority for ICE.”

In contrast, Nestor Marchi’s impending return to Brazil suggests a broadening of the category of people swept up in ICE’s enforcement efforts as the Trump administration attempts to accelerate deportations to meet a loudly proclaimed campaign promise.

“This administration is not going after ‘bad hombres,’” said Jeremy McKinney, a Greensboro immigration lawyer who assisted Marchi in filing a humanitarian appeal. “They’re conducting this quiet and very easy enforcement action taking in non-criminals who voluntarily appear at the immigration office…. The question is one of public policy. We have finite officers and finite planes. This is a matter of priority for the Trump administration. The promise that I heard is that he was going after criminals. Under no one’s definition of criminal would Nestor be included.”

Contemplating his all-but-certain expulsion from the United States at his son’s house on the north side of Greensboro, Nestor Marchi reflected on two decades in the shadows, working hard to support his family but attempting as much as possible to remain invisible.

“You live your whole life afraid immigration’s going to knock on your door,” he said. “Your whole life is looking over your shoulder, living a scared life. It’s very hard because I know I did something wrong — I overstayed my visa. Everything I do is to give something to my family. I want to stay here.”

All the same, he looks at his decision to come to the United States with satisfaction, considering that his son, Andy, is serving the community as a Greensboro firefighter.

Through his earnings, Nestor was able to pay his son’s $1,500 annual tuition at GTCC. Although Andy has lived in Greensboro since he was 7 years old, his family paid the international rate so he could attend community college. Now 30, Andy obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, allowing him to join the Greensboro Fire Department, where he serves on the hazardous-materials team.

“That’s why I came to the States,” Nestor Marchi said. “It paid off. I have a son doing something I’m very proud of. I came here not to send money to anywhere, but to give my family a better life.”

After the 2004 immigration raid, Marchi was out of work for about a year and a half. He said he lost everything, including his house and his car, and his health declined. In 2006, he developed congestive heart failure, leading to diabetes, and now relies on a cocktail of medications to maintain his health. If he’s forced to return to Brazil, Marchi said, he would have to wait for eight months just to get an appointment to see a doctor.

“He’s fighting to be alive,” Rose Snead, Marchi’s friend, said. “Every three or four months, he goes to Florida to be treated. If he goes to Brazil, it’s a death sentence.”

As a firefighter, Andy Marchi is often the first person on the scene when someone is experiencing a health emergency.

“I might have to perform CPR,” he said. “I see a lot of people with the same thing as my dad. It might be that someone who’s taking meds runs out and their health deteriorates. I’m happy that the fire department gave me the training to help these people. It stinks that I can help someone who I have no idea who they are, but I can’t do anything for my dad.”

Beyond overstaying his visa, in all other ways Andy Marchi said his father taught him honesty by example. He recalled that when he turned 18 he received offers for sham marriages, which would have put him on track to become a US citizen. Had he done so, he might now be in a position to sponsor his father’s application for citizenship and his father wouldn’t be facing an expulsion order. But he waited to find the woman he truly loved, and they got married five months ago. Andy could potentially sponsor his father in three years, but by then it may be too late.

“Three years is what would be needed for me to become a citizen to help him apply for citizenship,” Andy Marchi said. “We’re just closing the door. He needs help…. It’s not like he doesn’t have a gateway to get legalized. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Despite his past difficulties and dismal prospects of unemployment and unaddressed health needs in Brazil, Nestor Marchi said he’s grateful for his time in the United States. He always paid taxes with a false Social Security number to normalize his status as much as possible, but never was able to draw Social Security or Medicare benefits. Yet in a way he believes he benefited from the system he paid his taxes into.

“It’s unbelievable how good this country is to us,” Marchi said reflecting on the time when his health declined. “Because of the advances of medicine here — I paid for it, but I was able to stay alive.”

Marchi is aware that many people in the United States, particularly those who backed President Trump’s election, feel strongly that the nation’s immigration laws need to be enforced, even if they might applaud his work ethic and sympathize with his health challenges.

“If you have any humanity, [recognize that] it’s case by case,” Marchi said. “I always obey the law and do everything right. I plead with you: Please look at the other side. Some of us can be useful for the nation. Give some of us a chance to stay here.”

Some immigrants in Marchi’s situation might go underground to avoid deportation. That’s not his way.

“I need a miracle,” Marchi said. “I want to do everything right. My son becoming an American citizen, I want to be able to come back to see my grandchildren. If I need to go on June 15, I’ll go on June 15. My whole life I’m trying to be as honest as I can.”

  • floyd hall

    These are great people. Thank you, Trump voters.

    • BC

      Why should you get to pick and choose what laws you have to obey? Do you think I can just refuse to pay my taxes, and if I’m a “great person” the IRS will let it slide?

      • floyd hall

        You bring up an excellent point. What if you make a mistake on your taxes or fudge them — and notice that Nextor paid his taxes for 20 — and they deport you for that? It’s the same thing really.

        • BC

          Well I can’t be deported because I’m an American citizen. The illegal alien from the article is not.

          • Nick Jackson

            This is a fact that most people on the extreme left ignore. This wouldn’t be happening if people would just obey federal law.

          • floyd hall

            You mean like the federal law that says you’re not supposed to seek help from hostile foreign powers to win an election? Bet that’s one law neither one of you care about right now. Anyway, I’ll wager most Americans got here by sneaking in illegally. I know both sides of my family did, from Canada into Michigan when they were trying to keep the Irish out in the late 1800s. Time for you two to get down off your hobby horses.

          • BooBooBaby

            Omg! That’s hilarious that YOU believe All the Lies that the DemonRat Liberals are spewing about President Trump! He did not do anything wrong! The whole Russian garbage was made up by Hit-Liar-y Clinton and her shady campaign manager! We all saw it on their emails and what they planned on doing and lying about Trump and the Russians!

            In fact it is looking like we have more and more Facts of Corruption and Worse done by Obama and his administration…which includes Hit-Liar-y Clinton!
            No wonder they keep making things up about President Trump ….they (Filthy Lying Democrats) are terrified that ALL of their Scams/Murders/Cover ups/Spying/Dirty Dealings and worse will be exposed! This will be so Horrible for the Dims!

            If President Trump did something wrong they would have used it against him already! They have Nothing…..but there is Oh-So much Corrupt Dirt on Obama,.his administration, and Hit-Liar-y and Bill Clinton! Hahaha! I love it!

            Hey,.stay away from Pathetic Brainwashing Lunatic Lying Lefty Racist Race Baiting Whiny Loser Nutjob LIBERAL DemonRat CryBaby Hypocrite Snowflake Filthy Libt4rd Fake News Media Outlets….they Never tell the Truth! It’s ALL BS talking points and propoganda!
            Broaden your News outlets! Stop being fooled!

            And NO I am not a Rightwinger! I am an Independent! I too used to be a F00led Uninformed Liberal….until I learned the hard truths!

            P.s. I bet YOU were just perfectly fine with Hit-Liar-y Clinton giving 20% of our Uranium away to Russia! I also bet YOU were fine and said nothing when Obama was caught on a Hot Mic doing dirty dealings with the Russians right before the 2012 elections!

        • BooBooBaby

          Who knows if he is telling the truth!

          Anyways it doesn’t matter…he used a bogus SS#! That’s illegal! I am sure he has done many other things illegal too!
          America can’t and should not give in and let people stay that illegaly got in or stayed here! We can’t take care of everyone! We have our own Legal US Citizens to take care of! We know how much the Lunatic Lying Lefty Racist Race Baiting Whiny Loser Nutjob LIBERAL DemonRat CryBaby Brainwashing Hypocrite Libtard Politicians don’t like doing that! That’s why they kill them at the VA, and no one gets into trouble! Disgusting! That’s All on Obumma! Thanks a lot Obumma voters!

          Also, these Countries Need to take their Citizens back and take care of them and their own Countries and Stop pawning them off on the American Legal Citizens and America!

    • BooBooBaby

      Go away! YOU have No Clue what YOU Are even talking about!

      We are only hearing from his side!

      We cannot let everyone stay here that over stays their Visa or Sneaks into this Country!

      He used a BS social security number too…that’s illegal!

      I bet YOU said Nothing when Obumma did his raids and Deported people!! Hypocrites!!
      Filthy Libt4rd Fake News Media Outlets Loved and Love to spread Nonsense and BS Lies…..and some of YOU don’t even bother to find out the facts! Which is very Typical of YOU Pathetic Brainwashed Uneducated Unhinged Dishevelled Uninformed Jealous Violent Triggered Looney Lying Lefty Racist Race Baiting Whiny Loser Nutjob LIBERAL DemonRat CryBaby Welfare Leeching 1d10+ Hypocrite Snowflake Filthy Libt4rd TROLLS!

      • floyd hall

        I rest my case.