Juliet was profiled in the recent Newark art show, States of Incarceration and there she spoke at an artist talk. As part of another affiliated project, the Newest Americans, you can text her name — Juliet — to 973-707-3188 and you will receive a call from her recounting her story.

Below is some of Juliet’s story and art:

Juliet strongly believes that families are a necessary link of government and society.*  Though she migrated from a Eastern European country, she tried to teach her young American children about American culture and justice.

But after 2 1/2 years spent in detention, she wonders what values the United States holds.

Juliet had committed a minor crime, and had served time for it. But later ICE collected her and, though she had an American husband who was suffering from a serious illness, as well as American kids, they were discounted, as were her pleas to remain with her family, and she was deported.

Unable to abandon her husband when he needed her, she returned to America. But, since people who are deported are not permitted to return for 10 years, Juliet was put back in detention. While she was there, her husband passed away, as did her sister, but she was not allowed to visit her family to console them. She wrote and created art while in detention, some of which can be seen here:


Juliet finally won her freedom last fall and returned to her young boys. Since she has not yet been given papers to work, they all live with her parents.

She says, “I’m just hanging on the hope of being able to support myself and stop living off my parents some day.”

In addition to being an artist, Juliet is also a writer. A portion of her allegory of the immigration system, written while in detention, follows.

ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) Wonderland

If you find yourself falling into a bottomless rabbit’s burrow, well you might be in ICE Wonderland.

With Criminal court there is sentencing and certain expectations to plan your future after punishment. But Immigration detention’s outcome comes with an element of surprise. You might think it’s temporary. You might expect to go home or be banished from home. Cruel or not, being in this stupor for years without any reasonable criminal grounds, will jolt any mentality.

Bad immigration attorneys mysteriously brainwash people to shed their money and take deportation. For example:

I once encountered a mysteriously confident-as-a-Cheshire-cat immigration attorney. He indicated that my case was “a piece of cake,” without telling me what kind of cake or what size piece. For $500 in advance, he honored me with complete research of my case. He gained my interest by not demanding a sky-high amount—just $5,000. How can you go wrong with a noble man who doesn’t ask much and still is eager to help? Eventually he said that I will be deported to some foreign country. Of course, that wasn’t my piece of cake. So Cheshire Tabby, after collecting $5,000 for his services, left me high and dry in the juliets-swanlakesame clueless mystery I was in before I came to jail.

I wondered, What is a good immigration attorney and how can you distinguish them from the bad? Lack of expertise may cost you loss of your mind, home, family and more. The best place to learn about good attorneys is in ICE detention, through sane inmates with lists of references from previous ones. Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with their rates.

My judge was like the red queen. She yawned and drowsed throughout the hearing, not knowing whether to accept or deny my stay. With much to consider, after 17 months of my captivity, she required three more; freedom isn’t always an option. Everything must be under her control: Roses in the queen’s garden must be black or white; if red, they must be beheaded.

You need guts for the rollercoaster of immigration emotions—surprises, disbeliefs, astonishments, disclosures—bombshells are guaranteed. Immigration isn’t a process; more like a massive processor—trapped in ICE; mixed with inexplicable circumstances.

I miss simple things like to see the sky without barbed wires, to swim in the lake, eat tomatoes, ride a bicycle with my sons or read them books.

P.S. I will throw away one book in particular, Alice in Wonderland.

—By Juliet


* Introduction written by First Friends Board Member and volunteer visitor (to Juliet and others) Nancy Taiani

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