THE GREAT DIVIDE: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ON ONE DAY : PAINTER

NAME: Eamon McCarthy

AGE: 27

WORK: Painter

HOME: One-bedroom apartment in San Gabriel Valley

IMMIGRATION STATUS: Illegal immigrant. A native of Belfast, Eamon came to the United States 2 1/2 years ago from London. He grew up in Northern Ireland and was convicted and put on probation for making a gasoline bomb.

"This . . . green card thing is scary. It's like your life is in this one card. It's the difference between happiness and sadness, and it's going to determine what you're going to do for the next 15 years. To think that there is on thing that you did in your life that could ruin it all is scary. But it all happened when I was 15.

"I'm still looking over my shoulder. The bad part about being here is it's so far from home, if someone was sick, or if somebody got shot or drop dead, I guess I'd have to go, but the chances getting a job back home is why I left when I was 17 in the first place. And there's been a lot of trouble back there. If you don't have a job, you're facing getting hassled by the soldiers and none of my friends would risk going out for pints to get shot in the back. The troubles have been pretty bad lately.

"I get homesick a lot. I don't like Christmas. I spent the last couple of Christmases here and I've banned all Christmas tapes from my house. It's a bit hard. A lot of your guys have moved all over Europe for jobs and they all go home for Christmas and you get to call from home saying, 'Where were ya? We were down at Brennan's and all the boys were asking for you?'

"I don't want to be stopped for anything, so I don't drive hardly at all or travel north or south. I stay within my own city. I'm a law-abiding citizen. Pretty boring really. I don't let anyone come to my house. I just don't want to be booted out of the country."

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