About the Author

About the Author:

Kelly Giles obtained his Juris Doctor Degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1989. Kelly practiced U.S. immigration law for twenty three years, until late 2012, and has practiced Canadian immigration law since 2006. He self-published his Darwin’s Desert trilogy of poetry books between 2010 and 2012, “Swimming in a Thunderstorm”, “Surfing the Tsunami” and “Surrendering to Transcendence”. In 2014, he gave a talk entitled “Heart Surgery for the Legal Profession” to a class of USC Law Professor Jody Armour’s law school students related to his upcoming memoir. For the past several years, he has been a member of Aim for the Heart’s Microphone Sessions and Heart Sessions poetry and hip-hop workshops, founded by Tupac Shakur’s manager Leila Steinberg in 1996. He currently lives in Culver City, California, volunteers with Amnesty International, and is a member of UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program Now, Film Independent, and NewFilmMakers LA.

Kelly Giles: Born Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, 1963. Writer, and publisher. Kelly was educated at Trinity Western University in Canada and at Pepperdine University School of Law. Several of Kelly’s poems can be found on his Facebook page, and he has published numerous Six Word Memoirs on Smith Magazine’s website.

He was first published in the Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia while in the 3rd grade, when he wrote a letter to the editor about how integration was a wonderful thing, because you could learn so much from other cultures (despite having only one non-white classmate at the time).

His lifelong love of writing continued with such short stories as “Kentucky Fried Humans”, and was enhanced by both his high school careers and English instructors having him keep a journal for each class. His love of writing was so great that his English professor at Trinity begged him to change his major to English, but instead he spent four years getting a degree in business, only to finally figure out he didn’t have a business bone in his body.

Knowing only that he wanted to help others, he then got a law degree from Pepperdine and worked in immigration law ever since, for over twenty years in U.S. immigration, and for the past 15 years in Canadian immigration. Since no one would believe him when he told them he was a starving lawyer, he has now decided to become a starving writer, with his debut poetry collection entitled “Swimming in a Thunderstorm”.

Divided Soul (an excerpt from “Killing Justice: the taste of knives & the breath divine”)
I parked my Lancer on the street across from the Terminal Island Immigration Detention Center in the summer of 1992. As I peeled myself out of my sun-baked seat and stepped on to the asphalt, the scent of the sea surrounded me and swept me back to my childhood in Victoria, British Columbia.

The pleasant reverie soon faded, however, as I approached the forbidding black steel gates of the immigration prison I was about to enter. The guard barely glanced up at me as I signed in.

Tears streamed down my Nigerian client Abike’s face as she picked up the telephone receiver on her side of the glass partition.

“Has the judge agreed to set a bond for my release yet?” she inquired.

“No, I’m afraid not. I just talked to one of the prison doctors, though, and he said that you’ve been diagnosed with bleeding ulcers. Is that right?”

“Yeah,” she said, hanging her head. “I’ve been so stressed out since they hauled me down here in handcuffs from the airport. They still haven’t let me see my husband, and I have no idea if they’re ever going to release me.”

“I’m so sorry,” I replied. “Even the prison doctor I talked to said he’s been begging them to release you, but they just keep ignoring him. As soon as our visitation time ends, I’m going to go downtown and plead with the supervisor there to set a bond for you.”
Given that I had reached the limits of what I could do for Abike as a lawyer, for the rest of our visit I simply wept and prayed with her. Her father was a Christian pastor in Nigeria, and both he and her older brother had been killed for being Christians in a predominantly Muslim region of Nigeria. Abike had also made no secret of her Christian faith, and had received death threats because of it. Her husband Barine, which means “God provides”, was still just a U.S. Permanent Resident, and so his petition for her had not yet been pending long enough for her to qualify for a visa to come to the States to join him. Fearing for her life, however, she had managed to escape Nigeria and fly to Los Angeles, only to end up in the bowels of the Terminal Island Detention Center.
After saying our tearful goodbyes to one another, I hopped in my Lancer and raced downtown so that I could meet with the supervisor, John, before he went home for the day.“

Please tell me there’s a way you can set a bond for Abike. Your own doctors there are pleading for her release, as she’s developed bleeding ulcers from the stress of her detention and being unable to see her husband.”
“You know the rules. She should have waited her turn until she could have been granted a visa based on her husband’s petition, as that way she could have avoided all this stress.”
“Sure, and she would have, had her own father and brother not been killed for being Christians, and her then receiving death threats in response to her own very public Christian faith.”
“Then she should have been more low-key about her faith, shouldn’t she?”
“It’s a little late for that, I’m afraid. This poor woman has suffered more than enough for having come here sooner than she should have. Please set a bond for her, so that she and her husband can finally be together again.”
“All right, I’ll prepare a conditional release order for her, so if her husband can post a $5000 bond, then she can be released in to his custody, with the condition being that she must agree to appear for all her upcoming immigration court hearings, or else he will lose the bond money.”
“You’re a life saver!”
As soon as John handed me the conditional release order, I immediately called her husband Barine with the news, and gave him the phone number of the hotel I would be staying at up in San Francisco that night. I then sped off to the airport, as I needed to fly up to San Francisco for another client’s immigration court hearing there the next morning. I knew Barine could not afford the five grand, as I had put him on an installment plan to give him a year to pay the fees for his wife’s case, but I also knew that this was the lowest bond John was going to agree to.
From that day forward, my soul was split in two between my lawyer self and my writer self, as I’d been taking writing classes ever since I’d become a lawyer. I promised myself that whenever I found myself unable to help my immigrant clients as a lawyer, that I would do whatever I could to some day give voice to their cries for justice as a writer.
By the time I reached my hotel in San Francisco, there was a message from Barine waiting for me on the answering machine in my hotel room.
“I managed to borrow the five grand from a couple of friends of mine,” boomed Barine’s voice on the answering machine. “I just picked Abike up from the detention center. Thanks so much for your help!”
I wept tears of joy as I listened to his message, alone in my hotel room.

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Poems by Kelly Giles
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