Norwood Man Gives Up on American Dream Due to Immigration Nightmare
by David Greene
Days before President Donald Trump would sign a second Executive Order on immigration, a longtime Norwood resident who has battled deportation proceedings for the last two-years, has thrown in the towel and expects to board a plane later this month because the current anti-immigration rhetoric has gotten so bad, members of his own family, who are now American citizens– are telling him that he should go.
Juan Gunzman, Jr., 42, a native of the Dominican Republic, was just 11 years-old when he settled with his father in 1986 inside the 5-story walk-up at 364 East 209 Street at Decatur Avenue, a block that has a long history of crime and drug activity.
Guzman’s troubles began on those Norwood streets, when at the age of 16, he was arrested for an armed robbery. He recalled, “Somebody else did it, but because I was there when the crime happened and I didn’t stop it, they considered it conspiracy. So I plead guilty.”
After spending 1-year in jail Guzman attempted to turn his life around as he studied and took the General Equivalency Diploma, which he failed by one point. Guzman eventually got a job as a porter and became a member of 32BJ Union, the Service Employees International Union.
However, a $10 marijuana bust in 2015, which he claims he was held at gunpoint by officers, produced a sentence of 5-days community service. Guzman believes that weed bust sparked an investigation into his sealed 1991 arrest by Homeland Security, who Guzman says has been trying to deport him ever since.
Guzman was incarcerated for 2-months at the Hudson Immigration Jail and released.
Guzman also claimed that an acquaintance had been the witness to a crime and looked at the “mug books” inside the 52nd Precinct, when the acquaintance claimed to have seen a photo from Guzman’s sealed ’91’ arrest.
Guzman says that people on the streets of Norwood call those photo-books, “The Bronx’ Most Famous,” where photos from sealed cases are often shown to victims or witnesses of crimes, he adds, “So anyone can point to my picture and say it was me.”
Back in February Guzman attempted to inquire about his image in those mug books, when he was stopped before ever walking through the front door, he was told to visit One Police Plaza.
After being turned away from the Webster Avenue station-house Guzman fumed, “The case was sealed by the judge and they should not be showing my picture to anyone.”
At the time Guzman had been out of work and had spent the past year in a Brooklyn homeless shelter that he says was more dangerous than jail, but Guzman now says his battle is over, “I’m thinking of self-deporting myself because I’m not making any money and nobody’s helping me.” Having lost his job due to his marijuana arrest.
Guzman still travels from the Brooklyn shelter to visit family members and friend’s in the Bronx, he says of Norwood, “I’m going to miss it, this place had become my second home and there was no place in the area that I haven’t walked by.”
Guzman must now raise the money for a plane ticket, his reason for leaving Guzman says is the current wave of anti-immigration sentiment, “Many American citizens, even members of my own family are harassing me, telling me to get out and I’m not taking it anymore.”
Guzman added, “My father brought me here for the American dream, but all I got was a nightmare.”