Archive for the Detention Category.

Update on Ola – Deferred Action Granted!

Thanks to the efforts of numerous organizations and individuals, and a petition of more than 10,000 signatures, Ola Kaso will not be deported. She has been granted Deferred Action by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This form of relief is discretionary but only offered in exceptional cases. In Detroit, grants of Deferred Action by ICE are incredibly rare. It should be used more regularly for potential DREAM Act beneficiaries (who should not be placed into removal proceedings to begin with per application of prosecutorial discretion) and certainly should not be triggered only upon request by 10,000 people. Until President Obama calls for a moratorium of the deportations of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries, which he should do immediately, ICE should use its own prosecutorial discretion and Deferred Action as a regular course of action in these cases.

Ola’s story, and the positive outcome, is proof that action by you – phone calls, letters, petitions – can and does make a difference. It is also evidence of the overwhelming sense in America that DREAM Act beneficiaries are good kids who deserve a break. Michiganders clearly feel this way, and I am very proud of the efforts undertaken by my homestate to stand up for Ola. If America believes we should protect these children, it is imperative that the DREAM Act also be supported and passed. This can, and will happen, if you take action!

For information about the DREAM Act and opportunities to take action, visit DREAMActivist and One M1chigan.

Congratulations to Ola and her family and friends! Let’s keep this momentum going.

Posted in Announcements, Detention, DREAM Act, Inadmissibility & Deportation, Reform, The undocumented, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

101-Year-Old Woman Granted Citizenship, but Could Have Been Deported

I recently heard an immigration story with a happy ending. These days, heartwarming immigration stories seem to be few and far between, so I was delighted to hear about it. In 1909, while still an infant, a woman was carried across the Mexico-U.S. border. At that time, crossing the border was nothing like it is today as there were neither checkpoints nor patrol guards. The woman is now 101 years old and a lifelong resident of the U.S., but until this month she was still a citizen of Mexico, a country in which she had apparently never lived. Today, she is a proud U.S. Citizen.

Was this the right outcome ? We couldn’t possibly deny citizenship to a 101-year-old woman, or deport her… could we? Well, by her own admission, she returned from visits to Mexico on several occasions by simply stating she was a U.S. citizen, knowing that she was not, but afraid of being denied entry. Technically, because of these false claims of U.S. citizenship at the border, the law states that she should not only be deported from the U.S. but also barred for life from returning to the U.S. Yes, the law is that harsh. Making a false claim of U.S. citizenship “for any purpose under [the Immigration and Nationality Act] or any Federal or State law is” grounds for being deported and denied admission to the U.S. Although waivers exist to overcome penalties for various other violations of the law, no such relief exists for false claims of U.S. citizenship. Only a very narrow exception exists for naturalization applicants, which apparently this woman met. For most, though, there is no exception and no other form of relief.

This is a happy story that concluded the way it should have. Legally, though, in most cases this outcome is impossible. Although the Department of Homeland Security has prosceutorial discretion and is therefore not required to prosecute all cases, discretion seems to be very rarely exercised, even given recently announced ICE priorities. So, by law, had this woman not met a very narrow exception that allowed her to naturalize, she could have been deported and never allowed to return, even after living in this country for 101 years. Such an outcome would be shameful, abhorrent. Yet our laws are designed to favor that outcome, because the exception to naturalize is very narrow and likely does not apply to most applicants. This scenario provides yet another example of how overly harsh U.S. immigration laws are, and that the time to implement humane immigration laws is now.

Posted in Citizenship, Detention, Recent Posts, Reform, The undocumented | Leave a comment

Immigration Detention – Part Three

The Medical Care Crisis

Of the poor conditions in immigration detention facilities across the U.S. reported over the years, the lack of adequate medical care provided to detained immigrants is among the worst. This article published online by the Texas Observer on October 2, 2009, and summarized below, illustrates how devastating this problem is.
The Observer article tells the heartbreaking story of the death of 32-year-old Jesus Manuel Galindo. Mr. Galindo, a Mexican man detained at the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas for crossing the border illegally after having been deported, had lived in the U.S. since the age of 13. In detention at Reeves, Mr. Galindo informed the prison guards that because he was epileptic, he was prone to seizures and required medication and medical attention regularly. Despite this, his requests for medical attention went unanswered and he was dramatically under medicated.
Scheduled for release on December 12, 2008, Mr. Galindo had notified his mother on December 10th that he was still waiting for the medical attention he requested on December 9th. He told her he was concerned about his health and that if she did not hear from him on December 12th, to call the prison. On December 12, Mr. Galindo’s mother did have to call the prison only to learn that her son’s body had been found. He died in prison from neglectful medical care. By the time his body was found he had already been dead for several hours. His request for medical care in those last few days was apparently never granted.
Reeves, located in West Texas, is the largest privately run prison in the U.S. It houses approximately 1,230 inmates. It is run by GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut, and the prison is a for profit business model. GEO contracts Physicians Network Association of Lubbock, Texas to provide medical services.
Sadly, Mr. Galindo was not the first detained immigrant to die within its walls. Inmates claim that Mr. Galindo was placed in solitary confinement after requesting additional medical care, and that this was standard operating procedure at Reeves. Those who needed medical attention were punished, sent to solitary confinement.
Mr. Galindo’s death was the last straw for the inmates. Upon learning of his death, the 1,236 inmates at Reeves revolted in an uprising and shutting down the prison. The uprising resulted in negotiations between the inmates, and several state and federal level enforcement agencies. The demands by the inmates were simple – adequate medical care and better food. Although agreements were made, the requests made by the inmates went unanswered and another uprising occurred in February of this year.
This story is not just about Mr. Galindo. It is about the invisibility and vulnerability of detained immigrants, about the lack of accountability we have against privately run (for profit) prison companies, and about a need for enforceable, uniform standards in place for detained immigrants. It is also about the more than 100 other immigrants who have died in detention. Their stories go largely unheard.

The New York Times recently wrote about Xiu Ping Jiang, a Chinese woman with severe mental health issues whose medical needs were initially ignored and whose condition deteriorated significantly during detention. Thankfully, Ms. Jiang has been released and is now receiving the care she needs, but hers is also a harrowing story of neglect. Neglect is simply unacceptable.

The Obama Administration pledges to reform immigration. Detention needs comprehensive reform, and among the issues, access to medical care must be a priority.

Posted in Detention, Immigration, security, and fear, Recent Posts, Reform | Leave a comment