As a Brazilian child living in the United States with immigration papers, Bruno Torquato recalled, he had plenty of things to worry about. Alone in the house at night — his parents were always off working on one of the several jobs they held to keep the family’s head above water — Bruno feared cops as much as he did robbers.
“If I heard a noise in house at night, I had to run to the neighbors,” he said. “I couldn’t call somebody, I couldn’t call the police. We feared, constantly, being deported. We stayed away from the police.”
Even so, he added, Bruno — now 32 and a legal permanent resident of the United States — considered himself much luckier than a lot of the undocumented kids he hung around with. One, a Haitian, was arrested for something he didn’t do and pleaded guilty to avoid jail, only to be deported.
“They sent him back to a country he left at the age of 3,” Bruno recounted. “He doesn’t speak Creole…They just shipped him off, basically, to die.”
A crowd of about 100 people, including a handful of Broward County officials, listened raptly — and, in a few cases, tearfully — as Bruno told his story Wednesday night during a forum on immigration at the Fort Lauderdale library on Sunrise Boulevard.
He was one of eight immigrants who shared chilling tales of how the lack of legal status left them vulnerable to criminal victimization and legal exploitation.
“It’s easy to dehumanize us when you only hear numbers and statistics,” said Alex Salgado, 25, a registered diet technician who was born in Honduras. “But I’m here to tell you there’s a story behind each number.”
By Glen Garvin for MIAMI HERALD
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