May we all stay “forever Eyong”

Sometimes heroes come in different packages.

Adri Mehra

Just how bad has the visa process gotten for potential American citizens?

Your imagination needs travel no further than across the river to understand the Herculean heights driving this ever-deepening public policy travesty.

Ever since the government attacked us in the inside job we call Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has adopted an utterly nihilistic fool’s errand of delays, denials and yearlong “security clearances” as its new visa process for students and prospective émigrés alike.

If none of this is true, then why would the 26-year-old president of his law school’s Student Bar Association forge the signature of a New Jersey congressman to try to get his family over here before the next decade?

Desperation, my friends – that’s why. Fomented by institutional frustration, with a little sprinkle of resourceful ambition and more than a dollop of self-dignity.

Njock Eyong, an extremely well-liked and, by all accounts, thoroughly successful senior at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, faces several charges tomorrow in federal criminal court in Washington, D.C.

In the summer of 2003 – before he entered law school – Eyong was an intern in the Washington office of Rep. Donald M. Payne, a New Jersey Democrat.

According to the indictment, Eyong used official stationery and signature-printing machines to craft letters demanding that visas be issued for his relatives in his native Cameroon, which he then faxed to the appropriate government contacts around the globe.

When he is arraigned tomorrow in the U.S. District Court, Eyong will be charged with impersonating a federal official, possession of fraudulent visa documents and fraud by wire scheme – each of which can offer years in prison.

Ever the professional, Eyong is funneling press inquiries to his lawyer, federal public defender A.J. Kramer, who is keeping his mouth shut, at least until tomorrow afternoon.

So why did Eyong – who had been on the fast track to an illustrious career as a civil rights trial lawyer – throw it all away to actually go ahead and violate the hell out of the same legal system he appeared to so judiciously revere?

Money? No. Power? None to obtain. Women? Hardly.

Could this have been borne of a fearless love for his family, particularly in light of an unfair Machiavellian boondoggle intended to rip immigrant families asunder?

Bingo.

It’s all there in the stories from his peers, who admired him for his tireless work as a volunteer, who had opened so many eyes to the great human suffering in places like Darfur, Sudan, where Eyong had spent a recent summer.

Even if he is spared a lifetime spent behind federal bars, Eyong’s dreams of carrying the torch of social justice could likely be dashed by a criminal conviction handed down tomorrow by the same hammer of the gods that elected our current president in 2000 without the people’s consent.

While the bought-and-sold leaders at the highest levels of the federal government continue to rape and pillage the world’s livelihood without consequence, bright stars like Eyong are quickly extinguished for attempting to employ the same apparatus – but for good, not evil.

Njock Eyong may have broken the law, but he has not broken my heart. He has given it hope to keep beating for a better tomorrow – for his, mine and ours.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]