‘What’s My Fault?’ Arrested By ICE, Turkish Immigrant Waits In Detention

Yusuf Alptekin is a slender man with deep-set eyes. His government-issued blue jumpsuit signals to guards and other prisoners at the Bristol County House of Corrections that the 53-year-old is a low-threat detainee.

Still, the door to the office we’re sitting in needs to stay open for security purposes, and guards stand just outside.

Alptekin prefers to speak in English rather than through an interpreter. “I like to live in safe place, that’s why I chose this country. Because I’m really honored to [be in] this country, because I really enjoy it all my 10 years,” he says with a smile.

Alptekin was one of five people arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last month in Lawrence while they were attending scheduled appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

All five of those arrested, including Alptekin, had final orders to be deported, but were beginning the process of gaining legal permanent residency. ICE confirmed that none of those arrested has a criminal record.

‘Why I’m Here?’

Alptekin left Izmir, Turkey, for the United States in 2007. He says his family was being threatened there by a terrorist group looking for retribution against him because of his work as a drug informant for the Turkish government.

He entered the country on a travel visa and spent some time in Florida looking for work. When he got word from his brother that the family was in danger, he went back to Turkey.

“I separate my family,” he says. “My daughter, my brother, my sister and my mom, everybody is going to be separate address, separate location.”

By Shanoon Dooling for Wbur
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