Eddy and his family immigrated to Oakland from China when he was 12. The family didn't speak English. His father worked at a Burger King and his mother worked as a live-in babysitter to support the family. When he was 16, Eddy and his friends participated in a robbery; he was arrested and pled guilty to all counts. Charged as an adult, Eddy was sentenced to seven-years-to-life in 1986. Although the parole board agreed in 1998 that Eddy had been rehabilitated, he has been kept in prison.
While in prison, Eddy has been a model prisoner. He learned to speak, read and write English fluently. He even has his own blog. He worked with at-risk youth.
(Read about Eddy in this story by one of our editors, Bernice Yeung, which ran in the SF Weekly. Or check out the Asian American Bar Association's summary of Eddy's case here.)
Eddy was finally paroled on March 8 after serving more than 19 years. He was then taken into custody by the INS and is now in danger of being deported. Eddy came the US legally, but because of extremely strict immigration laws passed in 1996, any non-citizen who has committed a crime can be deported. His deportation hearing is coming up quickly: May 9, 2005. However, the deadline to send a letter of support is Thursday, April 21st. Tomorrow. Eddy's lawyers must formally file all of Eddy's letters of support this Friday, April 22. This means that any letters must be received by tomorrow, Thursday, April 21, or they will not count.
The judge will consider community support as one of the main factors in determining whether Eddy can stay in the United States. He desperately needs as many of us as possible to write letters of support for him.
Please fax your letter to 415-981-3003 either today or tomorrow.
Below is SAMPLE TEXT TO USE FOR YOUR LETTER. Just a few moments of your time will have a real impact on Eddy's chances of staying in the US. DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR LETTER TO THE JUDGE
Please FAX it directly to:
VAN DER HOUT & BRIGAGLIANO
Fax number: 415-981-3003
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Office of the Immigration Judge
San Francisco, CA
RE: Xiao Fei Zheng
I am writing to urge you not to deport Xiao Fei (Eddy) Zheng. I am aware that he is currently facing deportation for crimes he committed when he was 16 years old.
I am also aware that Eddy Zheng, now 35, has proven that he has rehabilitated himself and no longer poses a threat to society. In fact, his impressive record of accomplishments demonstrate that he can make positive contributions to society, which the California Board of Prison Terms and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger considered when granting his parole.
The United States should not deport people who have the ability to make such a positive contribution to our society and have shown complete rehabilitation. Eddy Zheng is uniquely positioned to be a positive force in the community.
His deportation would undoubtedly be a tremendous loss to his friends, family, and the community. He is exactly the type of person we should want in this country.
Please allow Xiao Fei (Eddy) Zheng to stay in the United States.
[address and telephone number]