After struggling to live without papers—a hidden life—I reached the breaking point. I officially appeared at the Immigration Office, and I was greeted as an alien, who had arrived at a land where I did not belong.
Since that day, I feel as though I have been locked in a battle to avoid deportation. Over the years, I have received countless notifications about my deportation.
The process is very straightforward. When a person is identified as an illegal alien, officials take their passport. In return, the person is given a piece of paper, known as Duldung (or tolerated right to stay). That permit means that deportation has been suspended.
In reality, it means that while I can be deported at any time, this paper postpones it. That means that every week or so, I am informed that I will be deported but that my deportation is being postponed.
To maintain the status of a suspended deportation, I have to follow a parallel bureaucratic procedure. In practical terms, that means I spend a lot of time in migration offices, where anti-immigration rhetoric is particularly visible.
Most immigration officers do not even make eye contact, they simply want to get rid of you as soon as possible. They speak aggressively, making the most of the power they have over you. Sometimes I overhear them speaking on the phone about deported people as commodities, as if they have no worth as human beings. Mostly, they try to make you fear being deported.
At times, they mock me, because of my sexual orientation and the fact that I am not German. I have been mocked a lot.
Being accepted as a homosexual in Germany does not really mean full acceptance.
Sexual orientation is part of a person’s social or official status. I have been the victim of racism and discrimination. As a person fighting for your life, the question of my identity is a cause of stress because the threat of deportation hangs on how I am identified, and that identity also determines how I will live either here or back in Azerbaijan.
There’s not a day that goes by when I’m not thinking of my immigration status.
It is up to the German authorities to decide my status; I have no power to change my situation. And as a person with no power, I fear the police. If I violate even the smallest law, say I do not have a ticket on a bus or I cross the street when the light is red, I can be deported.
The constant stress has nearly killed my career. I have done one solo exhibit here, an art show about the refugee crisis in 2015. In my work, I questioned how Germany, and Europe, was handling the immigration process.
But under the relentless threat of deportation, I cannot create. It has become impossible to have a normal life under the constant threat of deportation. Not being able to work or receive any financial support means not being able to meet even basic needs, such as shelter or food. I have lost a lot of weight and am constantly depressed. There is never enough food. I eat just once a day, and sometimes I do not eat at all.