Hello, I am Prinston Oluwylla Martyn Jr. otherwise known as POM-J. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to lend your support for this very important cause.
Friends, this petition is an essential component of my newly launched Immigration Reform awareness/advocacy campaign. This grassroots initiative, entitled POM-J STAYS, attempts to garner support for the countless number of Immigrants in America that are victims of the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) system.
While there has been much public discussion around “undocumented” Immigrants, there has been no reference made to those of us whose statuses remain in limbo. As someone whose status has been “pending” for the past 20 years; having had countless hearings either postponed or rescheduled, I feel obliged to speak up against this injustice!
When one’s status is pending, it means just that… nothing can be done until a decision has been made. In this case, the individual is unable to seek employment, social services, and the like, because there is a particular level of uncertainty. While those of us who fall into this category are technically not illegal, we certainly are not fully documented. It places us in a peculiar conundrum, and makes it difficult to progress.
However, there is truth in the old adage that says “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. With your help, we will raise our voices until justice is served!
Friends, this isn’t just an Immigrant problem, this is a societal problem! There are countless numbers of us, that are willing and able to work, but are being systematically excluded from the workforce, and discriminated against because we were not born on U.S. soil. Our wants are no different from your wants; all we seek is the opportunity to have a brighter future. Won’t you help us!
Hello, my name is Prinston Oluwylla Martyn Jr. My friends call me POM-J. I am a 30 year man of Liberian, West African descent. I have been living in the United States for the past 20 years and have led a seemingly normal life up until this point. I grew up in the mid-west; was a star athlete in high school and college; have had no criminal affiliations and, have since evolved into the driven and socially conscious adult that I am today. However, there is an ever present problem that myself and many others with immigrant backgrounds face on a daily basis.
The problem, is that too many people are stuck somewhere in the Immigration and Naturalization process, sometimes for years on end, and oftentimes with no end in sight. You see, while there has been much discussion around undocumented immigrants, there has been no acknowledgement of immigrants whose statuses are “pending”. This means that while they are not technically considered to be “illegal”, those of us who fall into this category, are expected to patiently wait, until the day comes that a decision is made. With all due respect, I have been waiting for D-day (decision day) to come for the last 20 YEARS of my life. Something must be done. As I currently await yet another deportation proceeding, I am attempting to seek every opportunity to raise awareness around this largely overlooked issue, and to see if there is any way to salvage my own dire fate. Here is the background of my story.
I left Liberia, 20 years ago, during the height of its civil war. As conditions in Liberia worsened, I had no choice but to overstay the visitor visa that I was granted. In 1991, my father sought to file the I-130 immigrant petition for relatives for me, and was advised that upon his citizenship, I would be approved. Unfortunately, my father did not receive his citizenship until fourteen years later, at which point I was well over 18 years of age. When my father attempted to file for me again, he was advised by his lawyers to wait an additional five years, but to no avail. Then, under the Clinton administration, I was granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) followed by a Temporary Protection Status (TPS). These programs allowed me to legally stay in the U.S. for a limited time past my expiration date. In 2001, the year I turned 18, things changed drastically for me, as new immigration policies had been implemented due to the September 11th act.
From 2001-2007 my INS status was in limbo and I was treated as a non entity in the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) system. Not having valid identification and/or a driver license became common place, and I was forced to find alternative means to make a living and survive. In 2005, my father, became a naturalized citizen of the US, and again attempted to file the I-130 immigrant petition for relatives. He did all he could to help expedite the process, but was unsuccessful. Things were further complicated, when I married in 2006 and then divorced soon thereafter, due to irreconcilable differences. While married, my status was deemed “conditional resident”, but once divorced it was back in limbo.
Having dealt with an unscrupulous immigration lawyer that facilitated much of the delay in my case, further complicated the situation.
In the past two years, I have been to five INS deportation hearings, in two different states. As you may imagine, it’s been a very stressful and cumbersome road thus far. Interestingly enough, upon my own investigation, I discovered evidence of my status approval through my father’s filing of the I-130 immigration petition for relatives, since July 5, 2006. However, in order to actively pursue this case, I need large amounts of money to retain a lawyer, and pay associated fees.
Therein lays the fundamental problem, as no one is willing to hire an individual whose status is “pending”. If I do not work, I will not be able to generate sufficient income to pursue this case. If I cannot pursue this case, I will remain in limbo.
Friends, I am asking that you lend your support for my soon to be launched awareness campaign, POM-J STAYS. It is my hope that through this campaign, my story can help inspire policy changes as well as to grow a large network of supporters for unique immigrant cases like mine. The words POM-J STAYS conveys my will to stay in the country that I’ve lived in for over 20 years, and have come to consider as my own.
The POM-J STAYS campaign strategy is very simple.
1) We aim to send this open letter to as many human rights, civil rights, and immigration rights advocates as possible, seeking their acknowledgment and support.
2) We aim to circulate a petition to garner as many signatures from sympathizers as possible.
3) We aim to use social media outlets (Facebook/Website) to build a network of supporters and to inform the public on the latest Immigration reform initiatives.
I would be honored if you were able to help me galvanize national attention around this major crisis. As the famous quote states, "Lack of unity has always been the reason we have failed to win concrete gains in our war against oppression."
Thank you for your consideration
Prinston O. Martyn, Jr.