Earlier this fall, Pablo Airaldi, a 28-year-old bike messenger, opened a bicycle repair shop on Manhattan Avenue and called it Greenpoint Bikes.
Today, he is sitting in a shitty Hudson County, New Jersey immigration detention facility where he’s struggling to hang on to humanity. His crime? A 10-year-old aggravated felony conviction for stealing auto parts in Indiana when he was 18.
Here’s how the legal permanent resident describes the facility in a letter sent to friends, and obtained by The Brooklyn Paper:
“Try to ask for toilet paper and you are laughed at. We go months without feeling the sun, are forced to hand wash our underwear every night because we are only given one pair, go hungry if no one sends us money because the food is not enough and there is a 13-hour span from dinner to breakfast. Men begin to lose their sanity and then you can actually see them slip away, their light getting dimmer and dimmer with each indignity.”
He’s held while the government conducts its deportation hearings, and if all goes to plan, he’ll be shipped back to South America — a home he left at the tender age of 7.
If you’re curious about life in these terrifying whirlpools of ambiguity, read “Locked Up But Not Forgotten,” a document compiled by NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, the American Friends Service Committee, and New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees. Also, if you’re friends with Pablo, give these organizations a call.
Below find a video he posted on Vimeo two years ago for a bike messenger racing team. It’s depressing to realize how quickly one can go from biking around the city like a maniac to begging for toilet paper in some shithole in New Jersey, watching your cellmates’ lights drip out of their lonely eyes.
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