Guillermo, A Former Drug Dealer, Fights His Deportation

By the time he was 10 years old, Guillermo knew he wanted to be a drug dealer. At 30, he was sitting in a federal prison in North Carolina, awaiting deportation to the Dominican Republic.
August 6, 2019

Episode Host(s)

Ana, Host of Mosaic
Ana González
Alex Nunes

GONZALEZ: Hi, I’m Ana.

NUNES: And I’m Alex.

GONZALEZ: And this is Mosaic, a podcast about immigration from the Public’s Radio. Alex, do you know who Maxim Litvinov was?

NUNES: Not a clue.

GONZALEZ: I didn’t either, until I learned about him from my uber driver. He was a Soviet revolutionary. Joseph Stalin’s right-hand man for decades, and my driver’s namesake.

PEREZ: My father named me Guillermo, because that's his name, Litvinov. So he used to be a Soviet diplomat. Then my youngest brother's name is Jose. But the story behind him is that my father wanted to name him Stalin. And my mom did not like the name so they named him Jose.

GONZALEZ: This is Guillermo. Guillermo Litvinov Perez. When he’s not driving, he’s making beats in his basement apartment. Guillermo is Dominican immigrant from Providence.

NUNES: And Providence is a really Dominican town. 

GONZALEZ: That’s right Rhode Island is actually the only state in the country where Dominicans are the largest latino group. 

NUNES: It’s interest that Dominicans started settling in New England as an alternative to New York, really starting in the 1970’s, at a time when this region had tons of mills and factories which meant jobs. And the community keeps growing even though the mill jobs are mostly gone.

GONZALEZ: And Guillermo’s story starts off like that of many other Dominican immigrants: he comes here as a kid in a big, close-knit family. But there’s nothing typical about where this story goes.

GONZALEZ: I’m sitting in Guillermo’s basement apartment. Aside from his makeshift music studio, with keyboards, microphones, and monitors, there’s not much to his home. In place of a kitchen, there’s a mini fridge and a microwave. And off to the side, there’s a door to his bedroom. Guillermo spends most of his time driving for Uber to make money.

PEREZ: I'm doing decent with that. A lot of people don't know how much money you could do with that you can make, if you figure it out.

GONZALEZ: I met Guillermo when he was my Uber driver. I got in the car on the way home from dinner with friends. And I saw in the app that my driver’s name was “Guillermo”. So, I say “Hey, Guillermo.” And he says: PEREZ: Where you from? Too perf--I said too perfect. Not just perfect but too perfect. Yeah. 

GONZALEZ: I tell him I’m Puerto Rican, that’s why I said his name “too perfect”. He says he’s Dominican. And we start talking. He asks me what I do for a living, and I tell him I’m working on this podcast about immigration. And he literally says, “I got a story.” For the rest of the ride home, he tells me the story you’re about to hear. And it blows my mind.

PEREZ: I was a dreamer before the Dreamers, you could say.

GONZALEZ: Guillermo first immigrated with his family to New York from the Dominican Republic in 1988. He was 8 years old. They move from New York to Providence not long after that.

NUNES: And with all the factory jobs here then, I can see why they would do that. By then, there were thousands of Dominican families coming here for the same reason.

GONZALEZ: And I should say, they came to this country on visas, but the visas ran out. So, Guillermo and his family were technically here illegally. That’s an important point in this story. Ok, so, Guillermo’s family is part of this huge Dominican community living in Providence. It’s not easy. His mom gets hurt in a car accident soon after they arrive, but the family gets an insurance settlement and they start a business.

PEREZ: We ended up opening a grocery store right off, 408 Cranston Street, that's like a little restaurant now, that used to be our house. We used to have a grocery store right there. Yeah. So we end up, My father ended up both of -- My parents actually ended up buying that house and had a grocery store right there. Jose's Mini Market.

NUNES: Named after Stalin?

GONZALEZ: Unfortunately, no. It was someone else. But Guillermo and his brothers work in the store throughout middle and high school. Life is simple. Go to school, come home, work in the store. But Guillermo has big dreams.

PEREZ: When I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a drug dealer. 

NUNES: So, Guillermo’s big dream is to be a drug dealer? 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. Because to him, success was money. And because Guillermo is essentially here illegally, he doesn’t have the same opportunities to make it. And he kept on seeing his neighbors and kids his own age go from being broke, like him, to having a new car, the hottest sneakers. And he wants what they have--that fast money.

NUNES: But then his family moves, right? So, he can’t actualize that dream.

GONZALEZ: Yes. His family moves back to the Dominican Republic. From ages 16-19, Guillermo lives in the DR because his dad is working in politics there. But Guillermo wants to come back to Providence. And his parents are thinking along the same lines. Being in the DR gives Guillermo’s family a chance to make things legal again. His mother applies for US citizenship in 1997, and she gets it. It’s an expensive process, so she can only afford to get Guillermo and his brothers legal permanent residence status in 1999, when Guillermo is 19. 

NUNES: So, Guillermo, his mother, and his younger brother can enter into the US legally.

GONZALEZ: Which they do. They come back to Providence soon after that.  

PEREZ: Everything was just different. 

GONZALEZ: He had to get used to Rhode Island all over again--the climate, the quiet. And his friends had changed. 

PEREZ: Everybody had a different state of mind. I started seeing different things. That's really what changed. It like everyone had grown up chasing money real fast. Matter of fact I'll tell your story. The day after I came back I'm not gonna say who I was what a friend of mine and we went to go see another friend. And when we went in the house he had like 10 pounds of weed on the table and I had just come from the Dominican Republic and I remember that I had never seen that before in my life. Not that much. So I'm like Damn. So, yo, can we get outta here?

GONZALEZ: That’s the summer of 1999, and 19-year-old Guillermo is hanging with friends. But he can’t get a job. He tries for over a year: nothing. One of his friends is in the Marine Corps. He tells Guillermo that he should think about enlisting.

PEREZ: Yeah was at the end of 2000 because I remember telling him like "Yo" cause he was about to go back to Japan. It was January. He came back in December actually. And I'm like "Yo if I'm still in this state, situation I'm gonna join the military somehow."

GONZALEZ: Months pass, and Guillermo still doesn’t have a job. His mom is in and out of the picture, so more and more of the bills are falling on Guillermo to pay. He starts what he calls “hustling”. Selling small amounts of weed, doing favors for friends.

NUNES: It sounds like he’s in survival mode. 

GONZALEZ: Absolutely. He’s looking for the best way to get a quick buck. One day he’s at the barbershop with his friend, and he hears a way he can make a huge amount of money.

PEREZ: And the guy said, " Well, nah, I'm in the national guard." La dadada. And my boy's like, "Oh, they pay you for that?" He's like, "Nah, not really. But," he said. "But they gave you a bonus, $10,000 for signing up." I said, “Wow”. I remember thinking, “Huh?!”

NUNES: This could be a good opportunity for Guillermo. He can get some stability, maybe even a career. And he might not need to hustle after he gets that bonus. 

GONZALEZ: He could do that. Or, more likely, knowing him, he already has a plan for those 10 gs. Either way, he calls the recruiter as soon as he can. 

PEREZ: He's like, "If you want we got a test tomorrow.” So I took the test I passed it right away like I didn't even study. I passed the test.

GONZALEZ: He’s accepted into the National Guard as a driver. He enlists, and he’s set to ship out to basic training in January. But, until then, Guillermo is still broke. He remembers being a month late on rent, close to eviction. So he helps out a friend in Providence by moving 80 pounds of weed from New York to Rhode Island. I ask him if he was scared.

PEREZ: They say when you're hungry, hungry overcomes fear. I don't care what no one says. That's why you see people crossing the border. When you're hungry, fear is not, it's not even, not even a choice.

NUNES: So, he’s doing this while he’s enlisted?

GONZALEZ: Yeah, he’s still in survival mode. And no one knows. He goes to basic training in January for 8 weeks. He returns to Providence, all ready to be deployed. But that never happens. So, he’s at home, with his friends, his brothers, his $10k enlistment bonus, and nothing to do.

PEREZ: You know, I was in the Army, and I had my military state of mind. my mind had changed. Everything, I was something else. But when I came back, first thing my brothers do is roll up of blunt for me. So, some of the money, I take, I buy drugs, and I start selling drugs because the money's running out. So what am I gonna do? I gotta get money. 

GONZALEZ: Only this time, he’s not selling weed.

PEREZ: I was selling heroin. But I was breaking stuff down so it's like I was making enormous profits. My profits was so large that it was crazy like...They got bags then 10 bags is a bundle then five bundles they call it a brick. So I would sell bricks of that for like about $175. You're supposed to do one gram is supposed to be one brick. But when you become good, I could make 2. So let's say I'm selling every every brick at about 150. So you know 10 is fifteen hundred, but I'm making double. So the amount of money I was making it was insane. 

GONZALEZ: If you don’t understand that quick drug math, that’s ok. At his peak, he’s making up to $25k a week. But you don’t need to know the specifics to know that Guillermo was making money. 

NUNES: Twenty five thousand dollars a week??? How? 

GONZALEZ: Discipline. He stays close to the phone, waiting for clients to call him. He never trusts anyone else but his brothers to help him. And he never does the drugs he’s selling. 

PEREZ: See, back then, when I was doing that, I was 22, 23 years old. To me, I was just doing what I was supposed to do. That's the way I used to see it. Then you know now that I'm old, I look back I'm like damn. Like I was really on some other shit . Like I had my older brother and his friends, they all hating on me. They didn't like me. I didn't understand why. Every time I would walk in they would always stop: "Aw, look at your shoes. Oh that cologne, that car." But back then I couldn't see what was that what was really going on. Cus to me, like I said I was doing what I was supposed to do. 

NUNES: Does anyone try to knock some sense into Guillermo? Like, where are his parents? 

GONZALEZ: Well his dad is in the DR, preoccupied with his political life. But he’s living with his mom. And she does try. She roots through his room one day and finds bags of heroin. She confronts Guillermo. 

PEREZ: She pulled me to the side one day she was like, "Listen, you're going to have to get a job because I'm not going to fall under your conspiracy." And I remember that year actually the day after my birthday I moved out of my mom's house that same year. I had to do it. I couldn't be, you know, doing all that stuff in there. And I was doing a lot. And a lot of people knew where I lived, you what I'm saying. So I had to get out.

GONZALEZ: He gets his own place. Which might seem like he wasn’t listening to his mom. But he decides to go to school. He uses drug money to pay for it. And he gets a degree in music engineering at a college in Florida. He wants to make it as a big-time hip hop artist and producer. 

PEREZ: Matter fact, I got a friend of mine whose name is Sway Mendez. When I decided to come back to Providence, he knew what I was going to do, and he was begging me not to. You know he used to call me every day. He was beat me in the head, he's like "yo, don't go back." He's like, "Yo you're going to fuck up." He's like, "yo don't". He's to call me every day for like a week. He'll come show up on my crib. He'll be me. Mind you, he's younger than me but he did three years already I've never been to jail. So he kept telling me, "yo don't do it." He's like "Yo, it's gonna be a mistake." Yeah so, he was right. It ended up being a mistake. 

NUNES: So he never pursues his music career?

GONZALEZ: No. It’s slow money versus fast money. You can imagine: being a music producer is cool, but it takes a long time to make any money at it. Back in Providence, he could make 25 grand in a week. And he thinks he can get even bigger. 

NUNES: But that’s not what happens. 

GONZALEZ: No, it’s not.

PEREZ: I was trying to do too much. I was trying to sell heroin. I was trying to sell coke. I was trying to sell, like, I was trying to do everything just like doing things too fast. You can’t move too fast. Not even when you living the fast life. 

GONZALEZ: He’s spread too thin. He starts working with new people. From 2006 to 2008, Guillermo gets arrested a couple of times. The third and final time is for good. 

PEREZ: Like I remember sitting in the room in the federal jail. I'm in the Federal Court over here downtown Providence and I'm thinking I can't believe I'm going through this again. But I knew it was a wrap. I know you I'm not gonna come -- You don't come out of a feds like that. I know. I knew it was over. Okay this is it. I knew I was gonna sit there for a while. 

GONZALEZ: Catching a federal case is bad for anyone. It means you’ve committed serious crimes and could spend a lot of time in jail. But it’s particularly bad for an immigrant. 

NUNES: Right. For someone like Guillermo, who has a legal permanent resident status, this arrest means more than mandatory jail time. It means automatic deportation after serving his sentence. So, once he’s released from federal prison, he will be sent to the Dominican Republic.

GONZALEZ: Guillermo sits in Wyatt Correctional Facility in Central Falls for 14 months, fighting his drug case, all while knowing he’s probably gonna get deported.

PEREZ: When you get locked up, the first thing you want to do is get out. Of course. there's nothing else to think about but get out. So people say "Nah!" You know, they don't know, they don't know the law. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. "If you sign a deportation they give you less time. This that and the third." But me, like, I did not want to get deported. Like, I don't know. Like, I grew up here, like I've been here. It was 20 years, I've been 31 now, but back then, 20 years. So I'm like "Yo, what the hell am I going to do?"

GONZALEZ: Guillermo is sleeping in the top bunk in a four-man cell. The ceilings are low, so he writes on them. One night, he writes 809, the area code for the Dominican Republic. 

PEREZ: And then I just wiped it off for some reason I say, and I'm like: Not me. Not me.

GONZALEZ: In that moment, Guillermo decides that, whatever happens, he’s not getting deported without a fight.

GONZALEZ: But it’s not that easy. After 14 months at Wyatt, Guillermo loses his drug case and is sentenced to 72 months in a federal prison in North Carolina. 

PEREZ: But when I got to North Carolina, and I was gonna be there for another four years. I remember walking out of the pod and looking around like: Damn, I’m gonna be here for another four years. That shit kind of fucked my head up. Yo it messed me all up. And I remember walking down on the yard and they have barbed wire like at the top. I couldn't even look up. I had to look like sneak up and look for a while like the first couple of months I couldn't I couldn't even look at that. It used to mess with my head.

GONZALEZ: 4 years in a federal prison, far from any home he ever knew. The pressure gets to him. One day, he gets into a fight and winds in solitary confinement for 2 and a half months. At this point, he’s lost virtually everything. No more money, no more flashy clothes, no friends, no freedom. Just him and his thoughts day in, day out. After almost 80 days, they let him out of the shoe, and he’s focused. He’s ready to start making the most of his time in prison. He’s going to start figuring out how to stay in the US.

NUNES: But how do you figure out something like that in jail?

GONZALEZ: By going to the place where you can learn how to do anything: the library.

PEREZ: I just know that I ended up going to the library one day and I go see the clerk is another inmate. It's all inmates, they run everything. So I'm like I want I'm trying to fight immigration. He goes What do you want? I'm like, i don't know. Just give me the law book. So he gave me a law book likes I don't know how many inches, like six seven eight inches like thick or whatever. So I just opened the book started reading on page one. And from there, I just started you know it was first definitions or whatever. Then from there I started just going into the actual law the immigration law. Then he saw that I was going every day. He said "Listen, we just we just got a handbook that came in. You want that?" I'm like, Yes. So, I used to take out the law book and the handbook and I used to go with like just a piece of paper and I just would just write things out.

GONZALEZ: He goes to the library every day for the entire morning block before lunch. At first, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He just reading every single thing on immigration law he can find. 

PEREZ: Wow. This doesn't bring back good memories. But it brings back memories.

GONZALEZ: Back in Guillermo’s apartment, he’s showing me all of the papers he copied from the library. He keeps them in a tattered post office flat rate envelope and had them on his keyboard, ready to show me when I got there.

GONZALEZ: And these papers are stacked with information. Immigration law is dense. But Guillermo’s explaining it to me like it’s any old thing. He tells me that in 2010, he found a case that identical to his, but the defendant lost because he didn’t fight to change his immigration status from legal permanent resident to citizen.

PEREZ: I was going to use that same argument. And I remember thinking you I hope someone wins this before I get out.

GONZALEZ: In August of 2013, someone does. The defendant is a man born in Nigeria, last name Nwozuzu. He immigrated to the US with his parents when he was a kid. They had visas, and his parents became citizens. He did not. He committed a couple of felonies and was set to be deported, but he fought it and won. Because he proved that he was actually a citizen all along through something called “derivative citizenship”.

NUNES: Derivative citizenship? I’ve never heard of that.

GONZALEZ: Neither had I. But again, it’s something my Uber drive taught me. It’s a classification of citizenship you can get if you meet the following 3 criteria: you come here when you’re a kid, you have parents who become citizens, and you reside permanently in the United States before the age of 18.

NUNES: Does “reside permanently” mean the same thing as “legal permanent resident”, or a green card holder?

GONZALEZ: That’s the whole issue. And that’s how Nwozuzu won his case. His lawyers proved that “reside permanently” does not inherently mean that someone has a legal permanent residence status. They just needed to live here full-time, like you and I live here full-time. So, Guillermo reads this crazy, convoluted case, and realizes: this argument could work for him. Someone has set a precedent. So, he finds the name of the lawyer who won it: BARDAVID: Joshua Bardavid, an immigration attorney in New York, New York.

GONZALEZ: Guillermo’s dad is living in New York at this point. So, Guillermo makes an appointment for his father to go Josh’s office in Tribeca. 

BARDAVID: The most important, and really the only issue in Guillermo's case, is what the meaning of reside permanently means. And so the question before the Department of Homeland Security is whether or not reside permanently is the same thing as lawful permanent residency. 

NUNES: So, let me get this straight. Guillermo’s citizenship boils down to what the words “permanent” and “resident” mean?

GONZALEZ: Basically, yes. Because, if you remember, Guillermo’s mother got her citizenship back in 1997. And Guillermo got his legal permanent resident status, or green card, when he was 19.

NUNES: But the statute says he needed to get that before he turned 18.

GONZALEZ: Right. But, Josh is arguing, that doesn’t matter. Because Guillermo lived, or resided, permanently in the United States before he turned 18 and before he got his legal status.

NUNES: So, Guillermo has been a citizen this whole time.

GONZALEZ: That’s what they’re trying to prove.

GONZALEZ: Back in prison, Guillermo is hard at work. He establishes residence in New York, so Josh can be his lawyer. He applies for a visa to get his derivative citizenship, but he receives an “Intent to Deny” his visa from US Customs and Immigration Services.

NUNES: So they didn’t deny him the visa, they just told him they were intending to deny it.

GONZALEZ: Yeah, ridiculous, I know. But Guillermo is ready. He responds to the “intent to Deny” with a 4-page, hand-written letter entitled “Response to Intent to Deny”. It’s as close to cursing someone out in complex legal jargon as I think you can get. You can practically feel the urgency leaping off each page. It’s written in pen with no scratch outs, no white out.

PEREZ: Dominican Republic law, BIA case law, and immigration law 

requires the DNA testing to affirm parent-child relationship. Therefore, I derived since U.S. citizenship from my mother the moment she filed for my permanent residency… 

PEREZ: So I sent that out on Tuesday. I'm supposed to get released Friday, ICE picks me up. 

GONZALEZ: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, takes Guillermo to their office in Virginia. It’s Friday the 13th, no joke, and it’s a total shock to Guillermo.

NUNES: Yeah, shouldn’t his letter have released him?

GONZALEZ: Yes. But this is the federal government we’re talking about. Efficiency and communication aren’t its strong suits. So, ICE holds him over the weekend. And Guillermo’s worried he’s either gonna get deported or have to stay in ICE custody indefinitely. 

PEREZ: So I remember, I'm taking a shower. I come out of the shower. They’re calling me. They used to call you by your bunk number, I don’t remember mine... They call my name... I don't care. I'm being a jerk. I'm taking forever to get ready. So when I go up front where the guy was at, the same ICE lady’s there, and she calls me. She goes like this. She takes me to the side she goes,”Hey. I think you're getting released.” And my heart just started racing: Boom boom boom boom. I'm like “Listen like, I can barely walk but I could barely walk. I'm like nervous. And she takes me back down to ICE, and they have all the paperwork ready. I couldn't even believe this was going on. I can't even believe it. I'm going, "Is this shit real?" Like I've been doing this for so many years. Like, is this really happening?

GONZALEZ: ICE couldn’t hold him. The letter worked. Guillermo was free to go.

GONZALEZ: On June 16th, 2014, Guillermo leaves ICE custody, boards a bus from Virginia to New York City, and navigates his way to his Dad’s apartment, where Guillermo can begin the next phase of his life. 

NUNES: It’s interesting to hear him talk so excitedly and emotionally about getting released from ICE. Because other than that, Guillermo has very little emotion or sympathy about anything that he’s done in his life. Even selling drugs. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, the dude has built some serious walls around himself. If he has regrets about his life, if he feels remorse for selling heroin, or even if he feels excited about the future, he didn’t share it with me. For him, it’s always been about money and survival. Even now.

PEREZ: It was kind of hard for me to even adjust to like getting slow money. I still don't understand how people do it. I mean how can people just work in a job, and this that and the third. I'm not saying I wanna like sell drugs. I'm trying to do it in a legal way, so I'm learning different things, now. How to make money in another way, which I wish I would have known back then, know what I'm saying. 

NAR: ANA: So, he’s driving Uber and looking into things like real estate and finance.

NUNES: But he’s not in the clear yet with his immigration case, right? Even now, in 2019.

GONZALEZ: Right. It’s been 5 years, and Guillermo’s immigration case is still open. He’s only had 2 hearings since his release in 2014. He has a court date scheduled for December of this year, where the judge will hopefully make a ruling about whether she thinks Guillermo has made a valid claim to derivative citizenship.

NUNES: Then what? 

GONZALEZ: Then, the case goes to the Department of Homeland Security, which will ultimately decide whether Guillermo can stay or go. 

NUNES: How long will that take?

BARDAVID: Impossible to know. The processing times vary greatly. They can be a year two years three years especially where there's a complex case that can even be longer. So there's no way to know for sure. There is no rhyme or reason to when we get a decision.

GONZALEZ: That means it could be years before Guillermo gets out of immigration purgatory, where he’s been for his whole life. 

NUNES: I bet a lot of people are wondering this: why should I care? Guillermo is a criminal. He’s the reason why we even have such strict immigration laws. Why are we wasting so much time and so many resources on helping him stay in this country? 

GONZALEZ: And that’s something I’ve been wrestling with, too. But I’ll let Josh take it.

BARDAVID: So he is not somebody who is you know a career criminal. He is somebody who made a huge mistake but paid his debt, did the time that he was sentenced to by the criminal justice system. And if the criminal justice system thought that he was a greater risk he wouldn't be out right now. But at the end of the day U.S. citizens don't get deported.

GONZALEZ: Guillermo is a criminal, and he doesn’t really care about what he’s done. But he changed in prison. It took him out of his old life and gave him the opportunity to study the law every single day. He’s learned that he can work just as hard as he did at selling drugs and be successful at something positive and legal. 

NUNES: And even if you think he’s a bad guy, all this mind numbing legal work that he’s done is actually digging into the very definition of U.S. citizenship. What happens here has the potential to have a huge impact on other immigration cases. He’s making a difference that could help set precedent in immigration law.

GONZALEZ: Exactly. But that hasn’t happened yet. So, Guillermo waits. He makes beats in his basement apartment. He drives Uber. And he dreams of what his life will be like once his case is officially over.

NUNES: Mosaic is a production of the Public’s Radio, edited by Sally Eisele with production help from James Baumgartner and Aaron Selbig. This episode features music by Guillermo Litvinov Perez and Bryn Bliska. Torey Malatia is the general manager of The Public’s Radio. I’m Alex Nunes.

GONZALEZ: And I’m Ana Gonzalez. Thanks so much for listening.



My father named me Guillermo – because that’s his name – Litvinov. So he used to be a Soviet diplomat. Then my youngest brother’s name is José. But the story behind him is that my father wanted to name him Stalin. And my mom did not like the name, so they named him José.

Guillermo outside his home | Photo: Ana González


“When I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a drug dealer.”

“Everybody had a different state of mind. I started seeing different things. That’s really what changed. Everyone had grown up chasing money real fast.”


“When you get locked up, the first thing you want to do is get out. Of course. there’s nothing else to think about but get out. So people say ‘Nah!’ You know, they don’t know, they don’t know the law. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. ‘If you sign a deportation they give you less time. This that and the third.’ But me, like, I did not want to get deported. Like, I don’t know. Like, I grew up here, like I’ve been here. It was 20 years, I’ve been 31 now, but back then, 20 years. So I’m like ‘Yo, what the hell am I going to do?’”

Copied and underlined immigration laws | Photo: Ryan Dilello

More copies of immigration laws | Photo: Ryan Dilello


“The most important, and really the only issue in Guillermo’s case, is what the meaning of reside permanently means. And so the question before the Department of Homeland Security is whether or not ‘reside permanently’ is the same thing as ‘lawful permanent residency.’”

Guillermo holding the letter that released him from ICE custody | Photo: Ryan Dilello


ICE couldn’t hold him. The letter worked. Guillermo was free to go.


“He is somebody who made a huge mistake but paid his debt, did the time that he was sentenced to by the criminal justice system. And if the criminal justice system thought that he was a greater risk he wouldn’t be out right now. But at the end of the day U.S. citizens don’t get deported.”

Keep up to date with everything Mosaic

Follow Mosaic on Instagram