Village Voice 05.10.2017 : Page 27

29 May 10 -May 16, 2017 VILLAGE Cirandou gives her 1-year-old son, Amadou, a view out the window. wasn’t cheap, and he is now thousands of dollars in debt to this man. Most of the cash he now earns doing odd jobs under the table, such as washing dishes at res-taurants, goes toward paying off the money he owes. Pierre reaches into his mouth and pulls out a set of false teeth. Without it, Pierre, life in New York City is compli-cated beyond even the weight of their ex-periences and fear for family members back home: All the while, they must also cope with the near-constant worry that they’ll be deported. “There are a lot of layers,” says Matthew Kennis of the Libertas Center, Pierre: ‘I still talk to my wife and kids on a daily basis, but I thank God that I found a way to be free’ his gums are empty and puckered. “This is from when they attacked me,” he says with a lisp. “I still have a difficult time walking and bending over. Until now, I don’t feel safe, because my family is there. My mind is still on what’s happen-ing [in Burkina Faso]. I still talk to my wife and kids on a daily basis, but I thank God that I found a way to be free. I have hope that I can help my family by being here. I don’t know if I should go back to protect my family, but if I do, they will kill me.” And for undocumented survivors like which provides support for survivors of torture and other human rights abuses. “There’s the layer of the trauma and the torture, there’s the layer of new begin-nings and integration, all of that, and then there’s the foundational aspect of immigration status.” Cirandou says she tried to set Pierre up with an advocacy organization, but de-spite physical evidence of his injuries, they were told his case wasn’t strong enough. “He’s the type of person — he can’t trust anybody, so he’s afraid to tell a lot of peo-I ple his story,” she explains. “I tried to ex-plain to him that it won’t happen that way, but from his experience, he feels like they could knock on his door at any time and tell him, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ ” Pierre is preoccupied by the thought that he will be swept up by the new immi-gration policies and sent back to Burkina Faso. He says fear of being asked about his immigration status keeps him from traveling far from his apartment or so-cializing much. “That’s my number one worry now,” he says. “This president says he’s going to get all the illegals out. I’m afraid that I will be one of those people. I came here for safety, and they want to send me back.” “He doesn’t have many friends either, but since he came here, we’ve become very close,” Cirandou says, putting her hand on his. “We’re like family now. We eat together; we cook. We comfort him, because we know what it’s like. We all came here as immigrants.” n a coffee shop near Union Square, Kevin, a handsome 39-year-old from Guyana with a shy smile, sips his drink as he talks. Kevin, whose name has also been changed at his request, came to the U.S. seeking asylum because, like Pierre, as a gay man, he could not live safely in his home country. “If I displayed any feminine traits growing up, I was scolded for it,” Kevin says. “I was keeping the fact that I was gay a secret until my mom passed away...after that, I would be called names in my neigh-borhood and attacked. I had to move. I went to a different area and was basically experiencing the same thing from people.” Kevin describes a pattern of relentless intimidation and violence that followed him as he moved from island to island in the West Indies, which culminated in a humiliating, abusive experience with the local police in Saint Kitts. “One night my partner and I were out, just hanging out around the beach area, when some cops pulled up on us,” he says. “We didn’t know they were cops im-mediately, until we got out of the car and saw them. At the time, the crime rate was spiking with guns and stuff, so we initially thought we were being robbed....Then we realized they were police. They asked us what we were doing. Then they took pho-tos of us in positions — like my partner is giving me head, stuff like that. They put their guns in our mouths, saying since we liked stuff in our mouth, feel that in our mouth. “We got home, and then everything just sank in,” Kevin continues, looking at

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