There’s an article in the NY Times about a former judge who is going to bat for a young man named Qing Hong Wu, who got into trouble a few years back, reformed, and is now being tossed out of the US as a “criminal alien.”
The judge and the juvenile had grown up on the same mean streets, 40 years apart. And in fall 1996, they faced each other in a New York court where children are prosecuted as adults, but sentenced like candidates for redemption.
The teenager, a gifted student, was pleading guilty to a string of muggings committed at 15 with an eclectic crew in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The judge, who remembered the pitfalls of Little Italy in the 1950s, urged him to use his sentence — three to nine years in a reformatory — as a chance to turn his life around.
“If you do that, I am here to stand behind you,” the judge, Michael A. Corriero, promised. The youth, Qing Hong Wu, vowed to change.
Mr. Wu kept his word. He was a model inmate, earning release after three years. He became the main support of his immigrant mother, studying and working his way up from data entry clerk to vice president for Internet technology at a national company.
But almost 15 years after his crimes, by applying for citizenship, Mr. Wu, 29, came to the attention of immigration authorities in a parallel law enforcement system that makes no allowances for rehabilitation. He was abruptly locked up in November as a “criminal alien,” subject to mandatory deportation to China — the nation he left at 5, when his family immigrated legally to the United States.
Now Judge Corriero, 67, retired from the bench, is trying to keep his side of the bargain.
A college friend had posted the article to his FB page, and another responded, “nothing provokes my righteous anger like a lack of compassion. which i realize sounds paradoxical…”
There’s a scene in Christopher Moore’s Lamb where Joshua (the Jesus character) and his best friend, Biff (the narrator) are working out an early draft of the Sermon on the Mount. Joshua is advocating for “Blessed are the dumbfucks” (though they seem only to be getting fruit baskets), and Biff is calling to edit out the dumbfucks . . .
“How many is that?”
“Not enough. We need one more. How about the dumbfucks?”
“No, Josh, not the dumbfucks. You’ve done enough for the dumbfucks. Nathaniel, Thomas –”
“Blessed are the dumbfucks for they, uh — I don’t know–they shall never be disappointed.”
“No, I’m drawing the line at dumbfucks. Come on, Josh, why can’t we have any powerful guys on our team? Why do we have to have the meek, and the poor, the oppressed, and the pissed on? Why can’t we, for once, have blessed aret he big powerful rich guys with swords?”
“Because they don’t need us.”
“Okay, but no ‘Blessed are the dumbfucks.'”
“How about the wankers? I can think of five or six disciples who would be really blessed.”
“No wankers. I’ve got it. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
“Okay, better. What are you going to give them?”
“A fruit basket.”
“You can’t give the meek the whole earth and these guys a fruit basket.”
“Give them the kingdom of heaven.”
“The poor in spirit got that.”
“Everybody gets some.”
“Okay, then, “share the Kingdom of Heaven.”” I wrote it down.
“We could give the fruit basket to the dumbfucks.”
“Sorry, I just feel for them.”
“You feel for everyone, Josh. It’s your job.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot.”