NATIONAL CITY, Calif. - He was hailed a hero after risking his life to save a utility worker, but Pamir Kurti's own life in San Diego could end in deportation at any moment.
Chaos and civil war erupted in Albania in 1997 as the Socialists toppled the Democratic government. In the aftermath, Kurti and his brother would take part in demonstrations against the Socialists.
Kurti says his brother was arrested, tortured with biting dogs and nearly killed. He says he was also arrested and beaten for months.
"They just get in and they just beat you and you are bleeding and everything and they keep kicking you," Kurti said.
Seeking asylum, he made his way to San Diego, crossing illegally in 2001, before filing a petition. He said during his first hearing, the judge said he did not have the paperwork and would have to postpone the hearing.
Kurti says he has now learned a court date was never scheduled. Seven years went by before he was arrested and told he had just missed a recently scheduled court date.
"They sent it to my old address, and I never got it," said Kurti.
After everything was cleared up, Kurti got to make his asylum request. It was denied because political conditions in his homeland had improved.
His appeals would also be denied. His lawyers say it is unfair because his request should have been looked at seven years ago.
"He shouldn't be punished now for bureaucratic mistakes that delayed having his applications considered at the time," said Kurti's attorney, Eleanor Kaplin Adams.
Since Kurti first arrived in the United States, he obtained a work permit and has worked for a home builder.
In 2012, near an Encinitas home, a San Diego Gas & Electric subcontractor trying to connect a power line to a transformer fainted.
"I see him just facing down in the transformer, and just shaking like, and at the time moment, you don't … you don't think, you just react," said Kurti.
He tried to move the convulsing man's head, resulting in a shock that most now believe should have killed Kurti.
Kurti then yanked the man's clothes from behind and pulled him to safety.
For his actions, Kurti received several awards, including a commendation from the subcontractor for saving their employee's life. He was also recognized by the Carlsbad Fire Department with a Good Samaritan award.
Kurti appealed for a deferred action, a stay in deportation. His heroic actions were part of his appeal.
His request was denied in April. He could be deported at any moment.
"This is my home," Kurti said. "I want to be here. I am fearful of what I will find going back."
Kurti fears deportation because the Socialists, who are still a political force, could settle old scores.
He is hoping immigration officials change their mind on the deportation stay. A representative with Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined comment.