Happier times for the couple.

Pelin Celebi-Ariner had already gotten word, but on Tuesday night she still hoped her husband would be able to return home to their cozy apartment in the Mission District.

By Wednesday morning it became clear that her husband Murat, the popular owner of the Amuse Bouche street cart,  wouldn’t be coming back to cook in their small, well-stocked kitchen. Instead, the newlyweds will remain separated as he is deported back to France.

Murat Celebi-Ariner, 37, was arrested in his home a week ago for breaking the terms of the United States’ Visa Waiver Program. Since then, he has bided his time in the Yuba County Jail, unable to see his wife but for two hours over the weekend.

He is still detained at Yuba, which is one of four Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracted jails in Northern California, the others being Kern, Sacramento, and Santa Clara counties.

Celebi-Ariner will remain in custody until he is deported back to his native country, France.  The wait could be as long as two weeks, said Randall Caudle, the couple’s attorney.

Virginia Kice, an ICE spokesperson said, “the visa waiver program is a privilege.”

The program is intended for visitors from countries deemed low-risk to the United States. Participants in the program are allowed to visit for a maximum of 90 days. In March, Celebi-Ariner entered the country on the program to spend time with his then-girlfriend Pelin.

In such a case, said Caudle, “Typically one would get a visitor’s visa. The trick is customs is not going to let you in if they think you’re going to come in, get married and stay here.”

Under the rules of the waiver program, Celebi-Ariner surrendered his right to court jurisdiction upon entry into the United States. ICE’s decision to deport him was decided without formal deportation proceedings.

“It’s not intended for people who are coming here to settle here permanently to work or to marry,” said Kice. “Its advantageous, but the downside is you don’t have much legal recourse.”

Celebi-Ariner may have to remain outside of the United States for minimum five years, but terms vary from case to case, said Caudle.

Some 40 percent of the 12 million undocumented who live in the United States have overstayed their visas, according to Pew Hispanic.

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  1. From the wife’s whining on the video you’d think both of them had been in the US for like 10 years when in fact he came over to the country in…. MARCH. Unbelievable.

    Oooh my life is soooo hard… I have to eat couscous every day… I want my foie gras and escargot….. I can’t afford wine from Bordeaux, I have to drink crappy Napa wine with my couscous!

  2. Silly rabbits. Sfs sanctuary legislation does not protect felons. It only restores due process. Not all immigrants are felons. Silly kids, your hatred and ignorance goes hand in hand

  3. 10 years ago I found myself in a very similar situation. The visa rules are quite clear and it takes only a minimal effort to understand what your options are as a multinational couple. What surprised me most about this article is that what is in reality an extremely common situation (couples with different nationalities)is made to seem extraordinary. Does the fact that he sold tasty tidbits from his cart made this case more compelling than if he was a dishwasher? At any rate this couple still has plenty of options – sure it is not easy navigating the world of visas and such, but that is their reality, as it is for millions of other couples.

  4. Perhaps this sad story wouldn’t have happened if they had contacted an immigration lawyer to make sure everything was legal. My husband is French and came here on vacation. I am not sure if he was on the Visa Waiver program, but he was only allowed to stay for 90 days. We met his second week here and fell in love. We got married before his 90 days were up. We contacted a lawyer to make sure he could stay legally before we married and he got his green card through me. We have been married over a year and the marriage is great. Perhaps the only difference in our story is that we did not know each other before he came here and so there was no intent to marry to stay here. We also got a lawyer to make sure everything we did was okay.

  5. This guy actually does have the right to appeal and in fact will be given a green card regardless of his visa waiver entrance. All he needs to do is get a competent immigration lawyer. The process will cost about $3,000.
    Regardless of peoples emotional positions it does seem odd that this guy is getting deported when the city is full of Hispanic illegal immigrants.

  6. As far as I can tell, pretty much every country in the world has strict immigration policies. Try to skirt the rules and get caught, they all kick you out (or put you in prison).

    The US isn’t some magical, lonely island where conservatives dislike immigrants as liberals seem to think. Everyone seems to dislike immigrants equally!

  7. Myself beeing a french citizen who stayed in SF Bay area longer than the visa allowed (same visa than in this case), I knew the risk like any french who travels in the US and stays longer than for “normal” vacation.
    I stayed one year, always doing everything right in order to avoid beeing pulled by the police and then came back in France by myself for some other reason.
    This fellow french tried, assumed the risk and lost. That’s part of the game and I won’t complain him.

  8. My advice to the young couple. Fly to France, immediately book a ticket to Tijuana. Drape a blanket across your shoulder and walk across the border with the other few thousand people. Oh yes, put a little spray on tan. If they think you’re Hispanic, they’ll leave you alone. It’s not politically correct to defend the USA from illegal immegration. Plus politicians may lose some votes.

  9. How about those illegal immigrant in jail for violent crimes, they should be sent out of this country first.

  10. Mr Jonathan Gast, your comments regarding this individual having “defenses” that he may assert in immigration court are without merit and pointless. First, a visitor on the visa waiver does not have the right to go before an immigration judge, he waived those rights, secondly,the only defense he possibly use is asylum…… from France?

  11. Mister English,

    Unless you’re British (which I’m guessing you’re not, since you referred to Strunk and White), the period should go inside the quotation mark. Get Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” if you’re going to masquerade as a self-righteous commenter.

  12. Since they owned their own business, they actually created jobs, not took them away. If he had been a Honduran crack dealer, he’d be given sanctuary; but be a contributing member of society and get run out of town on a techie? Makes no sense at all.

  13. I married a European and lived on and off there for many years. The local authorities always treated me (surprisingly) with respect and put the priority of the family ahead of the mountain of rules. Here things are different. My wife slipped up on one signature, one signature, and they almost deported the mother of three dual citizen children. A long discussion, lawyer at hand, with two officials who spoke almost unintelligible English, allowed for the signature to be retrocatively applied. The Lord be praised. The notion of kicking out the spouse of an American citizen is ludicrous, period, full stop, even if he was a bit of a twit and the marriage is real. There exist an unending list of rules for children but children get stabbed and raped and stoned out of their minds with frequency. People are not supposed to have a beer until 21 – the highest age in the world – and this rule is ignored. Have you seen anyone with a cell phone in the car lately? I can carry a registered semi-automatic weapon on the streets of Arizona. Millions of people run around in the black economy from different countries. And some readers approve of kicking this fellow out, telling him he deserves to be sent home, forgetting that his home is probably with his wife. If kids are involved, who cares either? Of course he should follow the rules, but seemingly common sense and above all a human touch left our society along with reality shows.

  14. visitador said, “Even if he is deported, he can still come back under a waiver because he is married (assumedly a bona fide marriage) to a U.S. citizen.”

    That is incorrect. Violating terms of a visa or coming to the country without a visa and being deported means you must wait a minimum of 5 years before allowed entry. His wife can petition for a K-3 after the 5 years has expired.

    glen matlock said, “Wifey is going to have to jump through some hoops to live with lucky Pierre.”

    Not really. An American can easily immigrate to France if they are married to a citizen. I can say this from expiereince, being a dual citizen of the States and France, married to a French wife. BTW, that link you posted does not support your statement.

  15. Honestly, doesn’t the government have better things to do with its time?

    There are endless numbers of illegal aliens in this country who aren’t already married to American citizens, and yet who are still doing useful work.

    Speaking as the son of a naturalized citizen, the immigration policies of our country have become absurd. Rather than pay money to jailers and airlines, just find ways to expedite paperwork and get people naturalized in a reasonable order. It would save time for everyone.

  16. What about the thousands who come here on work visas and never leave when their visas expire? It seems like he is just being used as an example. It is very easy to locate these individuals. If they are deported. Oh, I forgot,that would put an additional drain on the social security system.

  17. If his wife is American, and has citizenship it would have been real easy to get his greencard here. I don’t see why they didn’t try and get him here the legal way in the first place. He broke the law and deserves to be sent home. Hope wifey is prepared to move to France!

  18. cooking out of his kitchen?? puleezze this guy wants to find the loopholes for everything. is his kitchen licensed? does he have a health permit, a business license? not only is he in violation of immigration laws he’s violating several health and safety city requirements to prepare and sell food.

  19. You used to be able to do what this couple was trying to do–come here on a temporary visa, then get married and stay. When we got married in 1996 my wife not only insisted on doing this, but we had to get married in her country first (so her family could be there) and then lie to immigration (so we could get in on her existing tourist visa). I thought it was stupid even at the time, but I got tired of arguing.

    Over the years immigration has become a lot more rigorous about enforcing the law, and I can’t really take issue with that. Five years seems like an awful time to make them wait, though.

  20. Let’s talk about the more important point: this guy’s food wasn’t that great.

    Your average Mexican cooks better than him. Judging by the quality of food I sampled from him, he couldn’t cut it as a sandwich artist at Subway.

  21. “Built a life” and “have stuff”? What kind of self-entitled logic is that? You broke the law, and you are held accountable. The arrogance just slays me!

    And is he paying income taxes on his cash-only food cart business???

  22. kudos to ICE for doing their job ! some is illegally here….illegally running a business… and now deported back home.

    …now only if ICE would go after the other illegals as well. you know, the illegals who cross the border instead of taking planes to get into the country. it does seem unfair, that ICE does not pursue this group as aggressively as they go after other illegals (Indians once the H1 visa expires, this French person).

    for the comments that this poor couple will now have to be separated. please ! the girlfriend / wife can choose to go back to France if she really wants to be with him. you know, the way an Indian person who say cannot get his spouse the right visa would have to go back to India.

  23. Good grief, bright enough to start a business, not bright enough to do some research.

    As Mattias said, all he needed to do was to enter under a fiance visa and then get married. But then, maybe he did not really wanted to get married originally, and now this wifey story is just an excuse. Who knows, it may have been a sham marriage.

    Anyway, this story is about nothing. Even if he is deported, he can still come back under a waiver because he is married (assumedly a bona fide marriage) to a U.S. citizen. Just paperwork, which would have been almost nothing if they followed the rules.

  24. The sad thing is that all they had to do was file for a K-1 Fiancee Visa before he entered the first time! Takes about 90 days to process.

    Tens of thousands of people immigrate to the USA via this route every year.

    The K-1 Visa Program is an accelerated visa program designed to allow Americans the ability to bring finace’s here quickly.

    This was poor decision making on their part and his deportation actually a blessing in disguise as it will speed up their re-uniting.

    But more than likely, either he or she pissed of someone with some power or their restaurant was competition of the same people.


  25. He’s being deported because he willingly broke the laws of this nation, and somehow that’s not fair?

    I understand that remaking reality to suit your agenda is nice but only works with other fellow travelers.

  26. What do “open borders” and “personal responsibility” have to do with one another? Actually, for a lot of people, isn’t coming to the US to try to build a better life because you can earn more money here a great example of personal responsibility. What about that don’t YOU understand, glen matlock?

  27. @ Mister English:
    It is not improper to use an apostrophe in “vendor’s” if one is signifying the possessive, which is how I read MLNow’s Tweet.

  28. Victor wrote “I read americanpatrol.com, numbersusa.com and steinreport.com everyday to stay informed and be active in the fight against amnesty that obama will soon try to force on us”.

    I hope that you aren’t singling out President Obama for any special blame over this, given that former President George W. Bush tried TWICE (unsuccessfully) to pass similar immigration reform policies. I doubt President Obama will be any more successful, especially if he’s hoping for re-election in 3 years.

  29. Ok, he is in violation of U.S. immigration laws – I understand that. But, he’s working, making a positive contribution, not living on the dole, not causing any problems. Do you really have to deport him? Can’t we focus more on the powerful drug gangs south of the border who are bringing in heroin, assassinating people who get in their way, and causing real problems? Leave this guy alone!

  30. This whole immigration issue is so full of crock. People in the US enjoy cheap produce, cheap food, cheap restaurants all thanks to migrant workers, among other things.

    A lot of “illegal immigrants” contribute to the economy and do things that the progeny of (most likely) illegal immigrants won’t do. What kinda time did Pilgrims serve for violating immigration laws way back when? Oh, there weren’t any, so they get in scott free. Lesson: if there are laws, you get the boot, but if not, please come and rape and pillage our land.

    If we want to keep out illegal immigrants let’s get rid of slacker US citizens while we’re at it!

  31. It’s quite common for people to do this as it’s a much faster way than attempting to go the route of petitioning for a fiance visa. For most folks, it usually works if done properly although it is completely against the rules. It’s a sucky deal, but at the same time, it’s their rules and you need to stick by them. They’re in for a tough, long road, but with proper legal counsel, he might be able to come back in if he has committed no serious crimes in France. They could just go live in France of course. EU spousal laws are much more lenient.

  32. For someone coming from Europe wishing to get married it isn’t even hard to get a Fiancee Visa, which after the wedding leads to a greencard. Yes it takes a couple months but I think it’s a good test of the strength of the relationship anyway.

  33. Look, you morons, it’s not about whether this guy broke the rules or not, it’s about the utter hypocrisy of a system that tolerates, even shelters, millions of illegals who do drugs, commit crimes and are otherwise a burden on society, but then boots one guy who seems to be the embodiment of the American spirit. (Even more ironic that it’s a Frenchman!)

  34. Such vitriol here. Does ICE have every right to deport him? Sure. Should they deport him. I don’t know, maybe. But, even if I think they should, the disdain you folks show for other human beings is really, really sad. These people love each other and now are going to be separated. Do you all not have any empathy whatsoever?

    I don’t want to enter the debate about whether he should be deported, but I certainly feel for them both.

  35. If only he had filed the paperwork to convert to a spouse visa he would’ve been all right. That said, why not join him in France? That sounds great.

  36. Maybe I’m heartless, but as an immigrant myself, and one who went through a very difficult process to become a permanent resident, I have little sympathy. There are routes for French nationals to immigrate legally (ones that aren’t realisticly available to the many illegal Hispanic immigrants), and given that he seems to be married to a US citizen/resident, it looks like Mr. Celebi-Ariner just didn’t want to go through the trouble and time it takes, and instead took the easy route.

  37. I don’t feel bad for him at all. He was the one that broke the terms now he has to pay the price for it. Deal with it.

  38. Our immigration laws are archaic and arbitrary. There should be no cases where someone is forced to separate from their spouse regardless, let alone jailed for committing a civil infraction. Not only is this a violation of due process, but he certainly has defenses that he would have been able to assert in immigration court that he now will not be able to.

  39. Yes, he broke the law, and his deportation follows as a result. No problem with that. But I hope that the anti-immigrant commentators who make “follow our rules!” their mantra have also stopped using their cell phones while driving. Just sayin’ …

  40. I am a foreigner married to an American, living in the US on a Green Card. When we started planning our wedding I spoke to several US immigration officers who told me that I should go ahead and get married in my birth country and enter the US on a visitor visa, then apply for my green card once I was in the US. I got a bit nervous about this because I had heard stories of people getting deported for entering the US under the wrong visa. I called the US Consulate in my birth country and ran this idea by them. They told me under no circumstances to follow this advice, as I would likely get deported and possibly not let back into the US for 10 years. They told me to get married at home and then apply for a visa there. Luckily for me it only took about 6 weeks to get processed. I received my Green Card two weeks after I entered the US. Dealing with the US immigration has been very frustrating.

  41. What was the point of your article? What vendor is the Mission District and why the attention on this man being deported? It’s really annoying to read articles on SFGATE that just don’t have any substance. Where is the editor?!!!

  42. I am in the process finalizing my Canadian immigration papers so I can be with my partner after nearly two years of a long distance relationship. When I get approved to go across the border and be a permanent immigrant there are certain rules I must follow and if I don’t then I may be deported. We have certain rules in America too. Why didn’t he follow them? Sorry I have little sympathy.

  43. You had to have understood the rules upon entering this country on a visa. If you can’t abide, don’t come here. If I went to France, do you think I’d be allowed to stay indefinitely, displacing French workers? Hell no.

  44. There is no apostrophe in “Vendors”. Get Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” if you’re going to masquerade as an editor.

  45. They knew the rules and thought they could get away with breaking them. She sounds very naive. This would not have happened if he had gotten the proper visa. They tried to trick the government and were found out. Tough beans!

  46. What is so difficult about following the rules of one’s host country? I have lived in many countries (including France), and my foreign husband went through the steps to get the documentation to live in this country, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s the least any good citizen of the world should do.

  47. Hey, I’m Canadian, have lived here in SF since 1993 now and i’ve always been VERY careful not to be in violation of immigration laws. For the 1st 6 years I’d go back for part of the year to work in Canada – I was a SF State student initially so i could only legally work at State for $6/hr for about 6 hours/week. Now I’m on a TN visa and I’m still VERY careful to work only at my designated job. Most Americans are in FAVOR of foreigners NOT being allowed to just come here and work – they think it takes jobs away from Americans. Its very easy to get deported.

  48. One French guy gets deported, but what about the 20-30 million illegal Hispanics. We need immigration enforcement across the board. I read americanpatrol.com, numbersusa.com and steinreport.com everyday to stay informed and be active in the fight against amnesty that obama will soon try to force on us.