This time last year, Kong Xin Chen (inset) was in a federal detention center in northeastern Alabama waiting to learn if he would be deported to China, far from his wife, parents, and two small children and the life he had built since fleeing his native land 20 years ago. This December, Chen is back home, working long hours at his Marshfield restaurant, the Mandarin Tokyo in Green Harbor. “Business is normal, I am back to normal life, everyone is very happy,” he said. He still faces the challenge of clearing up his immigration status and most probably will have to return to China so he can reenter the country legally, he said. But after spending three months in custody — he was released in March — Chen is grateful for every day of normal life, and for the outpouring of support from friends, customers, and politicians who worked for his release. “I am still a little bit worried, but I believe my problem will be solved,” he said. “I want to thank the whole community, from my heart.”
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.