Fellow street vendors unite for Murat.

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.

The Amuse Bouche Cart with Murat on the left.

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.

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Armand is a photojournalism and multimedia student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and is originally from Baton Rouge, La. His work history includes being a paper pusher in Los Angeles and a youth program coordinator in Ramallah, and is currently a student editor at Mission Local, which means he gets to read a lot of news and tell people what to do.

He also waits for the day when bacon and buffalo sauce combine on one plate.

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  1. I am the father of Murat Celebi-Ariner. I would like to see my son in our country as soos as possible. He is a very good guy. Murat and Pelin loves each others and they are happy together. Dear americans, be kind with them. Thank you.
    Father and mother

  2. A number of months ago i saw a story in SFGate about a guy selling muffins and chai. I thought this guy is pushing his luck to tell his story so publicly – i was wondering about his immigration status. He was a bit naieve in flaunting what he was doing. ICE is not stupid when it comes to noticing things like this. Others might want to pay attention to this lesson!

  3. I love all the S.F. street food vendors and I’m in support of street food being made more wide spread. But, this is a separate issue. He overstayed his visa. It’s plain and simple. Getting married is not an automatic green card. If he was so intent on gaining a green card then why did he just blow it off? With that being said I do hope the guy is able to try again later and return to the U.S, legally and continue to make good street food. As to the comment about Mexicans and their value in comparison to a Frenchman. That was a fairly racist thing to say. Also the logic is flawed. Just because someone else is doing something wrong it justifies his actions? Not so much.

  4. I feel for Murat and his family and friends. Despite the situation it’s such a blessing to have such strong support. Wish you all the best… and hopefully all this attention & new energy of people can funnel into the local fight for immigration reform, so the separation of families doesn’t continue. Situations like this happen everyday to dozens of families here in the Bay Area. The San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network (www.sfimmigrantnetwork.org) is a great source for info and legal help.