More than a year ago, the Mission watched as immigration authorities arrested and then deported Murat Celibi-Ariner, the proprieter of the popular Amuse Bouche street cart to Paris.
No matter that Murat Celibi-Ariner’s new wife Pelin, an immigrant from Turkey, had recently become an American citizen. The couple had failed to do the paperwork that would have kept them here.
Nowadays, the Celibi-Ariners live in Paris. Pelin teaches English and after a six-month look for work, Murat found a job in a comic book store.
Most importantly, they have a four-month-old son Yunus.
Murat, who is a French citizen, was detained by ICE for more than two weeks in November 2009 before being deported to Paris. “The first thing I did was sleep for 24 hours,” Murat said about his first day in France. “Being detained was just like prison. I was very tired.”
The newlyweds spent five months living with Pelin’s parents – diplomats who, in a stroke of good fortune, had recently been stationed in Paris. “That made the transition easier,” said Pelin, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Turkey. But it was also disorienting. Paris, she said, was not home for her.
She became pregnant right away. Murat found a job in a comic book store, and the couple moved into their own apartment.
“I have been discovering our new lives,” said Murat.
The Amuse Bouche cart was not as lucky. “French culture is different,” said Murat. French people are not accustomed to buying their food on the streets, he said, and usually eat at home.
“It would be awesome to start a movement here,” he added, “but for now I don’t think it will happen.”
The former vendor thinks French authorities are less lenient about food permits and street vendors. “They would give you a ticket right away.”
Both miss San Francisco and the Mission District – especially the weather. Paris is cold in the winter. “I miss the sunshine,” Pelin said.
The former vendor’s application for a green card is still being considered. He said U.S. immigration has asked him to fill in more paperwork to have it go forward. Murat misses the vibe the Mission District has and would like to visit again. He’s put any bad feelings about the experience behind him, he said.
His wife isn’t so sure. “I don’t think I even want to go back.”
“We have a family now,” Murat said. “I want to move on.”