Paul’s story of accompaniment began on a cold winter day outside the homeless shelter where he was staying. Paul was a Polish immigrant who had been detained by U.S. immigration offices and put into deportation proceedings. Sometimes immigrants are detained during these proceedings– which can take months– but in Paul’s case, he was put into an intensive supervision program instead. The program allowed Paul to take care of any final affairs here in the United States instead of waiting for months behind bars, but it also required that he meet many conditions, including weekly meetings with his supervisor. Because Paul was elderly, low-income, and without close family in the United States, he was staying in a shelter and could not afford the public transportation to keep his weekly appointments. Enter Taller de José. Paul’s compañera was able to accompany Paul to his first appointment and then connect him with Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, an organization that provided him with a monthly CTA pass. Connecting Paul with the transportation pass enabled him to gain independence and self-sufficiency.
Paul’s compañera also worked closely with the Polish consulate to arrange for a temporary passport to be provided for him for free due to his financial situation. When Paul left the shelter at the end of his stay, he had connected with some distant relatives who helped arrange for luggage and a suit for him to wear, and the shelter gathered to say goodbye to Paul. Being deported and leaving the life he had built here in the United States was not the happy ending that Paul would have wished for. But with the assistance of Taller de José, those who offered him shelter, and the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, Paul was given the dignity and respect he deserved.