How I got to the USA through Mexico, got a political asylum and a prestigious job
The story of the Siberian activist Alexander Klimanov is so amazing that it looks incredible. As a young man, he managed to take part in opposition activities in Russia, work with Mikhail Saakashvili in Odessa, serve nearly nine months in an American prison without breaking a single law, and start working in the aerospace sphere of the United States without special education. . About how the emigrant from Russia is going to meet his cherished dream, Alexander told in an interview with ForumDaily.
In prison - in search of freedom
The emigration path of an opposition activist from Tomsk began like many others like him: in 2015, Sasha saw that his comrades began to be arrested, the attention of the secret services was becoming more and more obvious, and after the murder of Boris Nemtsov it was simply not safe. Then the Siberian activist decided to go to Ukraine. There, a political asylum seeker managed to find an interesting and useful lesson: to take part in the fight against corruption under the leadership of Mikhail Saakashvili, who was the governor of the Odessa region at that time.
However, after four months of work, Alexander felt a certain disappointment - according to him, in the new Ukraine, the former, “predominant” remnants were still too strong. The situation was aggravated by problems with legalization - it was not possible to obtain permanent registration in Ukraine, but I did not want to live as an illegal with the constant threat of deportation. Then Alexander Klimanov made a bold and rather extraordinary decision - to go to Mexico and ask for asylum in the United States right on the American border.
“I specifically flew across Mexico to stand trial in California, where one of the highest percentages of positive court decisions for political asylum, and not in Texas, where one of the lowest. And New York and New Jersey - it was generally a talk of the town, there are some of the harshest judges! ”, Sasha recalls.
When Alexander told the border guard his story, he and other foreigners were sent to an immigration prison. Then Klimanov did not know that he, by the way, who had not violated a single law of the United States, would have to spend in such places for quite a long time.
“After a few hours of waiting in a cold cell in which an 30 man sat on an 30 m², I was summoned in the middle of the night for questioning, where I told my story. After that, I was again sent to the cell, where we waited for almost two more days in conditions of wild cold. We slept on metal benches and on the floor - a blessing, they gave out rugs, ”says Alexander.
Then the prisoners were sent to San Diego, to a new prison, but with more spacious cells. The main contingent there was illegal border defectors.
“At least there were 22 bunk beds, a shower room, a TV and a walk in the yard once a day. I made a field for the game from cardboard disposable cups, found a couple of pebbles in the yard and, having drawn the alignment of forces with them, my Armenian neighbor and I played a naval battle. Fed there terrible! Only a burrito with beans and water! Three times a day! A few days in a row! ”Sasha complains.
Being in prison, Alexander learned a lot about the specifics of the work of the US immigration authorities with illegal immigrants from Mexico and other countries - at least as of the end of 2015.
“At that time, it was obvious that it would be beneficial for officers to persuade people to voluntarily consent to deportation and to refuse to appeal it. The fact is that for each deported they receive bonuses from the state. Therefore, I have often witnessed when immigration officers dissuaded another “jumper” across the border from appealing against the deportation, scaring him that the case might be delayed, the court would be postponed, and the unfortunate “Jose” would have to sit in prison for an extra six months. At the same time, they openly told the violators: “You can cross the border again illegally after the deportation, and you will be in the country again in a week,” Sasha recalls.
Self-development behind bars
However, Alexander, who was threatened with real danger in Russia, was not satisfied with the “illegal” option, and he decided to seek a legitimate political asylum. After San Diego, the prisoners were taken to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in the same city, and a couple of days later they were suddenly handcuffed again (according to Alexander, with a “classic” chain on a belt and shackled to their feet) and put in a big bus, which, with the subsequent transfer to the plane, was convoyed to New Jersey - the very state about whose courts among the political refugees there was the most unkind glory.
“December 10 I found myself at the Delaney Hall Correctional Facility, where I spent six months, until June 7. At the same time, until February, I was the only Russian-speaking person there. The funny thing is, I went to America precisely in order not to go to jail. However, the plan did not work, ”the refugee said ironically.
In the new prison, Alexander began to read books and sports.
“Fortunately, we had a yard, so I started running, which I had never done before in 31 a year! In uncomfortable prison slippers, on a small prison yard. I read Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Sergei Witte, Ayn Rand and William Faulkner, learned Chinese chess and could always find a partner for the classic. I worked in the library, fought for our prisoners' rights with the administration, sometimes I watched National Geographic and, to the best of my ability, did not let the brain go to sleep. I remembered geometric formulas, made extracts from books in drafts, built a compass, calculated the azimuth of the planet Mars ... There I read a book about Ilona Mask and his projects, after which he caught fire with his ideas. Trying to develop the body and the brain, I set a record in 13 km of nonstop running in the June heat, and if we sum up the morning and afternoon jogs, then I have a record 21 km, ”he boasted.
However, the relatively "comfortable" prison life did not last long. A few months later, Alexander was transferred to another prison - Essex County.
“It was hell for me. Well, firstly, this is a real prison: state prison, federal and immigration at the same time. 4500 people, including 800 immigrants, and the rest - the most real criminals. Neither the yard nor the gym was not there. In the library in Russian - only a couple of tabloid detectives. Basically, I looked at the ceiling all day and even stopped pushing out, ”says Sasha.
The final court in the case of Alexander Klimanov asylum took place on 22 August 2016, and Sasha successfully won it. After that, the Tomsk refugee spent several months in New York, worked at a construction site in Pennsylvania, then moved to San Francisco, and from there, at the beginning of 2017, to Los Angeles.
"It is here, in California, that the maximum concentration of all the most advanced things created by mankind is located: Tesla and SpaceX plants, Silicon Valley and the birthplace of most of the coolest inventions," he explained.
Through hardship to the stars
Of all the innovative projects developing in California, Sasha was most attracted to the aerospace industry, and after visiting the SpaceX plant in Los Angeles, he literally “fell ill” with space.
“I saw a huge rung from the Falcon 9, the very first one successfully planted on a platform in the ocean. He walked along the entire pipe of the Hyperloop prototype and photographed the new boring machine The Boring Company. This is all amazing, and I have not experienced such excitement and enthusiasm for a long time! I was ready to get a job though a loader, even a janitor, but it was in this area. I was even ready to sleep on the floor in the workshop and work for food, just to be able to create something great every day, ”Alexander admitted.
However, Sasha quickly had to understand: without special education, or at least work experience in the aerospace field, he could not get a job in this area even as a loader.
“The downside is that when you devote a significant part of your life to politics, you don’t have an aerospace engineer diploma or even an electrician certificate in your pocket. I was unsuccessfully looking for work, and spent all the money I had saved in my previous work and with whom I came to ElEy. I got registered with the employment service just to get medical insurance. They could not find me a job - I think, because I pointed out in my resumes that I needed work in the aerospace industry, and nowhere else, ”says Klimanov.
By the way, Sasha still had to sleep on the floor, however, not in the workshop, but in a cheap rental housing.
“I had to spend the night in a sleeping bag, and crickets jumped for me. Medical insurance and benefits were denied to me, because at that time I still had 500 dollars in my account. I tried to explain to them that in ten days they would all go to pay for housing, but no one wanted to listen to anything, ”he said.
Alexander was almost desperate when he suddenly received a call from the employment service. Officials still could not find him a job, but they offered to study at the American Aerospace Technical Academy (American Aerospace Technical Academy). Sasha immediately seized the chance. He found a part-time job, was able to stay in the city before the start of classes and successfully completed a three-month course. He even managed to save money for attending a serious conference in his industry. Even before graduation, recruiters from Element Materials Technology, located in Oregon, came to the students. There, Alexander and found his first job in the field so desired by him.
“I work in a lab in Hillsboro. We do an internal X-ray of parts of aircraft engines for the Boeing, in other words, we are testing metal parts for engines for durability. But it is important to understand that the aerospace industry is divided into aerospace and space itself. They are certified the same, but the difference between them in practice is very significant. Aerosphere is honestly boring for me, but I need experience in this industry.
Now I have already fallen into this industry, and I will strive to grow further in order to finally start working in the space field. My ultimate existential goal is my own multi-planetary corporation, so there are already some ideas on a startup in this direction, ”concluded Alexander.
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