SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 01: An American flag is seen next to a closed sign on a business in the Mission District as thousands closed their businesses to protest for immigrant rights May 1, 2006 in San Francisco, California. Immigrants and their supporters around the nation are rallying together through marches and demonstrations, along with boycotting work and spending, in a consolidated effort to show their importance throughout American society as the ongoing political debate on immigration reform continues. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Herve and Caroline say all it took was one moment.
“I had never had a love at first sight experience and ill never forget the first time I saw him,” remembers Caroline Jamieson.
Now, five and half years later, all it took was one letter to put everything the couple had in jeopardy.
Jamieson sent a direct plea for asylum to President Barack Obama on behalf of her husband Herve Fonkou Takoulo, who is facing deportation. The native of Cameroon came to the U.S. in 2002 on a temporary visa, but when he petitioned for political asylum he was denied.
Jamieson mailed the letter in January. Takuolo was arrested outside of his East Village apartment a little more than two weeks ago.
“The officer said, 'Are you Harvey?' I’m not Harvey, I’m Herve," Takoulou said, describing the encounter between federal agents and him when he walked out of his apartment that morning.
Officers asked Takoulo whether he wrote that letter to Obama and he said his wife had scribed it.
"He said step aside and that was it,” Takoulo said.
Rather than reach the president, the letter was somehow forwarded to the U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s fugitive unit. Takoulo spent two weeks at the Hudson County Correction Center in New Jersey, mostly alongside convicted criminals. But Takoulo has no criminal record. He was suddenly released Thursday without an explanation.
The couple says that in order to prove their marriage is real and to get a green card for Takoulo, they need his asylum case reopened. As of now, they do not know what the next step will be, though Takoulo is wearing a monitoring bracelet around his ankle.
“It’s going to be absolutely devastating ... I don’t even think I can wrap my head around it. I just don’t understand how something like that could happen,” said Jamieson.
I.C.E said in a statement that they have “a zero tolerance policy for violations of civil rights”.
Takoulo’s case is under review. In past statements, President Obama declared that his administration would not pursue deportable immigrants unless he or she had a criminal record.