It has been said many times that any law that does not have human compassion is cruel and inhuman. Just because the current government failed to get its immigration executive order pass the test of the Constitution and on a smaller scale UN human rights standard does not give the ICE officers the freedom to play judge jury and executioner. what happened to the American culture of “Bring me your poor and wretched yearning for freedom and liberty”, I guess it has been flushed down the detention — Oh sorry, prison– toilet. Make no mistake, the treatment of detainees oftentimes are worse than an average domestic prisoner for the simple fact that 99% of detainees are in search of freedom, greener pasture, exchange of skills, quality education and/or vacation and once detain–sorry, imprisoned–are afraid of demanding fair treatment for fear of being victimized by the ICE officers and the court system. My encounter with INS, now known as ICE, begins in 1999 when I was deported back to the UK after serving a jail term for possession of a weapon, keep in mind that the weapon was at a private residence and not in a public place. On the day of my deportation, two INS officers picked me up at a Maryland state prison and took me to the airport. This was after 5 months of INS prison time. This is how long it took for INS to process my document for deportation. On getting to the airport I was given a piece of paper that has my name and the law that governs my deportation, I never appear before a judge and the condition of my deportation was never revealed to me, specifically the length of years I was barred from reentry into the US. I remember asking the officers and I was told if I want to come back to apply for a visa in about 5 to 10 years. Fast forward to May 3 2017 at Atlanta City Airport coming for a community Wellness Festival, it’s about celebrating generosity and culture (how ironic) organized by my cousin in Tucson Arizona. Unfortunately for me, as much as I try to hide my past on the Esta online visa application my past caught up with me at the point of entry. The ICE officers refused my entry after 5 hours of looking into my past and assessing the purpose of my visit, I was asked to consent to immediate removal which I gladly did. I was to be barred for five years from the US under this removal condition. Hoping that I will be sent back to the UK the next day I called my family to inform them of the situation and that I will be back in the UK the next day but to my surprise instead of my removal from the US I was told that the removal order has been withdrawn that I now face a criminal charge of illegal entry due to the fact that my 1999 deportation order has an indefinite bar clause. I tried to explain to the officers that I was never informed of this clause either in writing or verbally and under the immigration law my offense is not an aggravated felony and I should not have been deported under the indefinite bar, well it is now 14 days and counting and I am yet to be charged in court, which constitutes an illegal detention under the criminal code. Another point to note is, if I am under the indefinite part in 1999 why was I asked to consent to immediate removal order with a five years bar and why did it take 12 hours for the ICE officers to locate the condition of my 1999 deportation order. If they could retrieve all other information about my deportation on their system and could not see the condition of my deportation until 12 hours later, something is wrong. Since 5/4/2017 I have been in prison at Atlanta prison awaiting a court appearance on a criminal charge of illegal re-entry, mind you I was told by the officer in charge of my case that I will receive a visit from court appointed lawyer the next day and will appear in court a couple of days later. I have since learned that it is the same lies that’s been told to all the detainees and that a court appearance will take a minimum of three weeks and best case scenario I will be in prison for 2 to 3 months. If this is true it will have a devastating impact on me and my family in London England, anything longer will destroy all that I have worked for in the past 17 years.
When you look at the prison facility and the condition of the detainees you begin to wonder why ICE will decide to prosecute a case like mine as opposed to just deportation or why it’s taking two to three months to deport a detainee that has willingly signed a deportation order, thereby wasting US taxpayers’ money with the unreasonable delay and at the same time violating human rights standards. For example Mr Faustino in cell 210 was removed from his cell and taken to isolation because he went on a hunger strike in protest of his continued imprisonment of almost two months after he has paid ICE for his return ticket back to Mexico. Since then a few more detainees have also taken to express their frustration by going on hunger strike. The sheer lack of compassion and empathy has led to the huge backlog of cases, deception and many lies by the ICE officers to ALL the detainees, if you ask any detainee about the information they are receiving from their DO ‘s (deportation officers) they will tell you it has been one lie after another and these are the same officers that are supposed to uphold the law and read you your Miranda Rights. Good luck waiting for your DO to show up for their scheduled visit to the prison block.
It’s no news to the media or families of detainees that the deportation procedure is too slow and yet nothing is being done by the government to rectify this problem. As I mentioned earlier what happened to the notion of “bring me your poor and wretched yearning for freedom” when the system is about to deport Rafael in cell 205 back to the country he left at the age of one year and now 18 years later he is faced with being separated from his entire family. Or in the case of great grandpa Patel at the age of 80 with diabetes condition went into shock on the 13/5/2017 and almost died due to the delay in receiving his medication, the point is why is ICE detaining an 80-year-old man when he could have been sent back or released to his family with a leg tracker? There were many tears when he was struggling for breath and disoriented.
Apart from inefficiency by ICE it is also evident that ICE lack the funds to provide basic needs for the detainees. Situations where medical request takes 3 to 5 days to see a doctor or where it’s a struggle to get hot water for bathing, the food are often terrible and small where sometimes two dry and old cornbread is in a meal to make up for the small portion. The hygiene products provided for detainees are not only inferior China products, some are also dangerous, such as the bath soap that dry the skin and blister the lips for days. The interesting part is that the issue of poor facility can be resolved with adequate funding or proper effectiveness of ICE process and procedure, why should it take 3 to 4 weeks to appear in court once the decision has been made that court appearance is needed or two to three months to execute a voluntary removal order. This period of cruel and unnecessary imprisonment is inhuman and a waste of US taxpayers’ money.
Furthermore compassion and empathy will also go a long way in the reduction of backlog cases and cost situation where when a Senior Correction Officer enter the prison block the detainees are meant to put their back to the next available wall regardless of if it’s eating time or not shows cruelty through the officers always allow us to continue with our meal, nonetheless the rules still apply. Furthermore why the state or federal government will ask a nonworking illegal immigrant to pay taxes on phone calls, hygiene products and medical items etc. is very strange and interesting. There is also a hint of extortion / exploitation on the pricing of these products and services, the detainees are charged at least four times higher than the street value, it makes one wonder how in a state and federal run so-called Detention Center who is capitalizing on these fraudulent schemes.
Update: today is a sad day, I have just learned that Great Grandpa Patel, the 80-plus-year-old man from India died yesterday 17/5/17 at the detention Clinic due to the complications he suffered while in ICE custody.
Due to the many protests by concerned citizens in regard to our continued incarceration in prison condition, for which the last one was held yesterday on the prison ground we received visitors from ICE human right division. The purpose of their visit was in regard to the poor prison conditions and to investigate the death of Mr. Patel from India. An attempt has been made to improve the condition at the facility but the condition is a small part in the concern of detainees ICE process and procedure lack humanity and it’s broken. For example I started my hunger strike on 1/6/17 due to the fact that since 3/5/17 when I was arrest at the airport they have yet to arraign me in court, which is now 30 days overdue. Once a detainee start a hunger strike the procedure is that I should have been notified immediately but due to broken process and procedure it took 2 days for my hunger strike to be documented and for ICE to be notified, now most hunger strikes last two days that’s when your DO will come and explain your situation to you, but mine will probably last a lot longer due to bad management. Thanks to officer Renfroe and officer Jackson and few other officers who ignored my hunger strike my first two days on hunger strike meant nothing. Good news just received a visit from my DO and his supervisor, the supervisor said he just received today the letter I posted to him two weeks ago and the DO said he has been on vacation, and resume back to work today, go figure. When all else fails, lie. I was told I would not be prosecuted but I will have to see the judge who will determine my eligibility letter to process on my visit into the US or to be deported back to UK. So I guess once again hunger strike works if a detainee wants to exercise his or her right now that it documented that I have been on hunger strike the sheriff and his supervisor officer Bernell will have to get a move on with my case. I just received a visit from the incompetent ICE officer that handled my case at the airport over 1 month ago, he brought my charge document to sign, this is a document I should have signed at the airport over 30 days ago and it is the only reason why my case got lost in the system for over a month until I went on hunger strike.
In conclusion, it is easy to pin the failure of immigration policies on Donald Trump or the government but sorry the citizens must realize the abuse of freedom and liberty that is being committed, situation where immigrants are getting their permanent green card withdrawn for simple misdemeanor charges or where the immigration makes new laws as they deem fit with no oversight department to cross check the laws against detainees’ human rights for example to have a law that gives DHS or ICE 90 days to deport a willing detainee is morally wrong, and unjust and contradict the values of what America stand for.