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Free Robby: An American Dream Shattered by Elizabeth Nichols

Today I am revealing my own personal heartache to my faithful readers.  It is a story that is only in my heart and my mind at this point, but it is my life’s ambition to bring out the truth in full in the form of a memoir or perhaps a true crime story.

Today my future son-in-law is sitting in an INS detention center as he has for the last 9 months in isolation awaiting the decision on his final appeal.  In May the judge ruled that he is to be deported back to his home country of Trinidad without the possibility of return to the U.S.  Ever.  The last appeal is under review.  We are pleading the the judge will grant Robby the ability to stay in this country on humanitarian grounds.  He was badly injured in an auto accident two years ago leaving him without a spleen and in need of modern medical support in order to make sure his blood cells are regularly monitored.

Robby is an American Dreamer for whom the possibility of being able to stay in this country was removed as the result of a false set of charges that sent him to jail several years ago.  Robby arrived in this country at the age of 12 with his parents and brother.  His family is of East Indian descent, but they have lived in Guyana and Trinidad in most recent generations.

Being traditional Hindus his mother sought to resolve the immigration status of her children by arranging marriages for them in the U.S.  Robby was married at 19 to a U.S. girl I assume of Indian descent, but after 3 weeks it was apparent that the marriage was not going to work out.  A divorce that was supposed to have occurred over a year ago was never completed and now it is necessary for Robby and my daughter, his fiance, to raise the funds to end this first marriage so Robby and my daughter can marry.

DeDe NicholsDeDe Nichols and Robby Seeparsad

My daughter, DeDe, fell in love with Robby about three years ago.  We have gotten to know Robby and appreciate his kind, thoughtful nature.  I admire his entrepreneurial, scrappy spirit and the optimism that he always displays even in the darkest of situations.  I know theirs is a true love story and I support their desire to be together even if it means that DeDe will be an expat for the rest of her life.  It breaks my heart, but I support it.

These two young people have been through so much together.  DeDe rushed to Robby’s side when he was seriously injured when tires blew out on a van he was riding in two years ago.  It caused collapsed lungs, an injured spleen, and a lacerated liver that kept Robby on a breathing tube in intensive care for three weeks and the hospital for six weeks.  The accident left Robby’s best friend a paraplegic.  Arwen eventually died of the effects of his injuries.

When DeDe was in the hospital with a serious infection, Robby was at her side constantly.  About 18 months ago they set out in an RV together to figure out where they wanted to settle down and put down roots.  They were so full of hope and the future looked bright.  They would get married, solve Robby’s immigration issues, start a business and raise a family. They wanted all the same things every other young American couple want.

Then last January Robby was in Chicago working with some friends and the van he was riding in skidded across an intersection in the sleet.  The Chicago police carded everyone in the vehicle, and because he did not have any ID (other than a Trinidad passport) he was taken in and held without charge indefinitely.  His only “crime” is being in this country illegally, having been brought in as a 12 year old.

What complicates the whole picture is that several years ago in his Guyanese neighborhood in Queens, NY, a neighbor of Robby’s was taken in by the police for allegedly assaulting and injuring his girlfriend.  The detectives said they would let this young man go if he’d wear a wire and catch someone else admitting to a worse crime.

Robby was the odd man out in the neighborhood.  He was the only guy who had tattoos or piercings. He didn’t run with any gangs or clicks.  He was an easy target– just an illegal who was easy bait when someone needed to pin something on someone who had no strong connections to the neighborhood.  Robby’s mother and eight year old sister who lived in the apartment below Robby’s were his only ties to the neighborhood.

Apparently, at a neighborhood gathering some of the young men got together and talk ran to the topic of what happened to a garage at the end of their block that had been torched.  Lots of guys speculated, but it was Robby’s voice that got picked up on tape.  Robby merely thought the same thing others thought–that the garage was probably a meth lab.  Robby never was given the chance to hear the tape, so he can only speculate that it was doctored to make it sound like he knew more than he did (which is nothing) about the arson.  Detectives picked him up and charged him with arson.  He fired his first court-appointed defense counsel who told him he should plead guilty.  No way was Robby going to plead guilty to something he did not do and face 25 to 50 years in prison!

Then the detectives came back with a plea deal.  If he would plead guilty to aggravated assault they’d reduce the sentence to one year.  They said if he did not plead to that charge he would be stuck in Rikers Island in New York’s prison system for two or three years just waiting for trial.  After the unspeakable things Robby witnessed and perhaps experienced personally in prison, he did not think he could survive for two or three years in prison.  He took the plea agreement even though he was guilty of nothing.  I do not believe he ever was made aware of what a devastating impact pleading guilty to aggravated assault would have on his dream to remain in the United States!

Robby was actually released from Rikers after 8 month on good behavior.  I ask you, if he were really a violent felon would he have gotten out on good behavior after 8 months?

Those of us who know this gentle and kind young man know that he is totally incapable of any kind of violent crime. I can only imagine him raising his hand in anger to protect himself and his loved ones and in no other circumstances. It is not in his nature and it would totally fly in the face of the kind of behavior so common to those American Dreamers who have had to fly under the radar for years and not draw any attention to themselves in order to keep from being deported.

The information found in the detective report from his arrest in New York was submitted as evidence in his deportation hearing to prove that Robby is a dangerous criminal.  The report was found to be so riddled with misinformation and untruths that it was thrown out of court. The INS did not present any other information that supported their contention that Robby is a dangerous criminal.  Pleading guilty to aggravated assault– a plea that was obtained under duress and was not true– was the only evidence presented.  That plea may well have nullified his ability to remain in this country!

I can no longer stand by silently while an injustice is done.  As a mother my heart is breaking for my daughter and my future son-in-law whom we love and support completely.

We realize that what has been done may not be able to be repaired.  Robby cannot take back his guilty plea.  The judge in his deportation hearing said she did not have the authority to overrule whatever happened in a New York court room.

What I can do is to tell Robby’s story and set the record straight.  I will dedicate whatever time I have left to clear his name, and if he is deported,  hopefully make it possible for my daughter, Robby and their future family to return to the U.S. sometime in the future.

Justice has NOT been done.  An American Dream has been shattered.  A mother’s heart is broken.

For anyone who can find it in their heart to help support the Free Robby cause, I have left a donation button on my Mysterymavenblog.com site and I’ll be putting one up as a fan page at my Facebook site and I’ll be doing a Youtube video as well.  We need funds to offset legal expenses, help DeDe and Robby submit paperwork that may allow him to return to the U.S. some day (or if a miracle happens– stay in the U.S.)  They will need help setting up anew where ever they end up in this world, and I need some support to help researching and telling this story  so that no more Robby’s become pawns of the U.S. justice and immigration systems.

Liz Nichols

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