The wife of a popular French street vendor in custody for overstaying his visit to the United States said that she and her husband had planned on making an appointment with immigration this week.
“We’ve known he overstayed but this is not a reason for them to take people off in handcuffs,” said Pelin Celebi-Ariner, who is a U.S. citizen. Some 12 million undocumented people live in the United States and some 40 percent have overstayed their visas, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
“It’s our fault that we didn’t make our appointment,” she said. “If we had an appointment he would have been applying” this week.
In a telephone interview on Thursday Mrs. Celebi-Ariner told Mission Loc@l that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrived at their door in the Mission District Wednesday morning and asked for her husband, Murat Celebi-Ariner. They handcuffed him and took him away.
Mrs. Celebi-Ariner spent all day Thursday at ICE headquarters with their attorney and filed a request to defer her husband’s deportation. The case is supposed to be decided on Monday, she said.
Since Celebi-Ariner violated the Visa Waiver Program, which allows some visitors to remain here for 90 days without a visa, he might not be entitled to present his case to a judge. It’s his wife’s understanding that the decision could come down to the officer in charge of the case.
If a judge grants a deferment, her husband could be released on bail and the couple would then apply for his green card.
“I just worry about him physically — they took him back and forth in the middle of the night, in handcuffs,” said Mrs. Celebi-Ariner.
Fellow street vendors were at 111 Minna Thursday night wearing “Free Murat” t-shirts. Earlier, some had participated in a Commonwealth Club panel discussion on the rise of street food vendors. Celebi-Ariner was one of the first vendors in the movement.
The Commonwealth Club is one of the oldest public affairs forums in the country and the arrival of the street carts offered an odd mix of establishment and renegade operators.
Panelist Steven Gdula got choked up when mentioning his friend’s detainment before the crowded room. Celebi-Ariner was a ardent supporter when Gdula began selling his “Gobba Gobba Hey” moon pies.
Brian Kimball, a.k.a. the Magic Curry Guy, said, “It sucks. I know he got married a couple of months ago. It’s surprising they can do this.” Mrs. Celibi-Ariner is Turkish and became an American citizen in June.
Earlier Thursday, Celibi-Ariner was held at 630 Sansome Street, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Building. He was transferred this evening to Yuba County Jail in Marysville, CA, more than a hundred miles from San Francisco. It was his second time in the county’s jail since his detainment, as he was taken to Yuba on Wednesday night for four hours before being transferred back to 630 Sansome in San Francisco.
Mrs. Celebi-Ariner said he will be kept there through the weekend.
The couple married in August, after he moved to the United States from France to be with her.