U.S. Veteran Arnold Giammarco Beat the Odds, But Wife Now Fights His Deportation
On May 14th, Arnold Giammarco was standing on his front porch talking to his sister on the phone. Armed Homeland Security agents approached him, told him to drop the phone and forced him to the ground. His wife Sharon was shocked, and initially so skeptical of his arrest that she assumed he would be released the next day and she would be told there was a mix-up. She and her sister Amy learned that he would be held until the next Monday, when he appeared before a judge. Now, over four months later, Arnold remains behind bars.
Sharon and her sister Amy started a petition to fight for Arnold's freedom - and built a full website to tell Arnold's story (you should take a second to read their beautiful, heart-wrenching stories). They have shared Arnold's troubled past - including petty theft and drug use - in the hopes of also showing that his story is a decidedly American one of redemption. "When his addiction was at its worst, he was literally on the street, and it is to his great shame now that he did the things he did to support his habit. His last arrest was on January 23, 2007. He has since become entirely clean and sober, and subsequently, wouldn't dream of stealing anything from anybody", says Amy.
Arnold was brought to the United States from Italy when he was four years old and has lived in this country for more than 50 years as a legal permanent resident. As a young man he served in the Army and the National Guard. After his first marriage ended in 1993, he struggled with drug addiction and substance abuse. But Arnold was tenacious and he fought to get his life back on track. Now he and his current wife, Sharon, have a 2-and-a-half year old daughter, Blair, a home and a family life that they have painstakingly built together. Now, because of the past that Arnold worked so hard to overcome, he is behind bars and faces deportation back to a country he barely knows. Sharon could lose her husband and Blair could lose her father.
Arnold's troubled history was no secret. Writes Amy, "Arnold was on parole and probation for years. There was a very long period of time that the United States Court System allowed him - encouraged him - required him - to get his life together and start flying right. They released him from jail and allowed him to go out and create a whole lot worth losing. They set him free and told him to go build a life. He repaired and rebuilt long-ago damaged family ties. He got married and a had a daughter. He even paid a visit to the immigration building after he lost his green card. They gave him a new one. He got a new driver's license too. No one even hinted that there might be a problem with his resident status."
After all his hard work and after overcoming the odds, Arnold's family could be destroyed. Now Arnold's family and friends are wondering: Isn't persevering through turmoil and overwhelming odds one of the most American things one can do? Doesn't the court system that worked to rehabilitate Arnold also have the moral obligation to allow him to see that hard work through? To raise his daughter and support his family?
His wife Sharon writes, "My husband is a good man who deserves a second chance. He has proven that people can change, despite the toughest of odds, and in turn, change the people around them. I live by his example, and choose to spend the rest of my life showing other addicts the way to a better life. But I still need him to teach me, to show me how it is possible to give to others unconditionally and succeed in gaining respect and love".