Tuesday, December 11, 2007

8-year-old girl was separated from mother for four days

Yet another grim account from Hutto of a young child being separated from her mother. The 8 year old girl was left alone only guards and ICE staff for 4 days.

An 8 year old child. With no criminal record. Left alone with only guards to look over her. In a prison.

This is the American justice system.

Read full article by ANABELLE GARAY

Immigrant advocates have filed complaints over an 8-year-old girl who was separated from her pregnant mother by immigration authorities and left without her for four days at a detention center established to hold families together.

Attorneys with the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law sent a complaint on Monday to the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees detention of immigrants. They also made a complaint to the Texas Department of Protective Services on Nov. 29, said Barbara Hines, a law professor who helps oversee the clinic.

Guards and ICE staff watched over the child for four days and the pair were reunited when they were deported, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said.

ICE officials have previously said detaining families at the facility is meant to help "children remain with parents, their best caregivers" while they are processed for deportation. They also told the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that parents would be at the facility with their children and would be responsible for their care, so state regulation wasn't needed.

But if the state's child care licensing division receives a complaint indicating child care is being provided, it could investigate, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Food illnesses at GEO detention facility.

Hundreds of detainees fell sick from apparent food poisoning at the Northwest Detention Center near Tacoma, Washington. Northwest is a 1,000 bed immigrant detention center owned by GEO, a private corporation that holds contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for facilities across the country.

Read full article.

SCOTT FONTAINE; The News Tribune Published: December 10th, 2007 01:00 AM

Hundreds of detainees were sick. Many complained of severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The medical staff was called in early but couldn’t cope with the long lines.

The culprit was Clostridium perfringens, a foodborne bacterium that poisoned hundreds at the Northwest Detention Center on Tacoma’s Tideflats in August, according to public documents recently released to The News Tribune.

The incident also fueled criticism of the 1,000-bed privately operated immigration detention center, which has been the subject of protests in Tacoma.

The poisoning likely began Aug. 11 with a lunch of turkey and potato casserole. Many detainees wrote in surveys that the meat served that day looked raw and smelled odd. The department’s food experts believe the potatoes – which were cooked the day before, cooled and reheated for the meal – allowed the bacteria to flourish.

By about 9 p.m., about 300 detainees were ill, most with diarrhea. Detention center staff told detainees they had to wait until the in-house medical clinic opened in the morning, but the volume of complaints prompted the administration to call clinic staff at 4 a.m. and ask them to come in early.

Only 197 people were seen at the medical clinic.

“Others likely came to the clinic but left without being seen, due to long lines,” the Health Department’s investigation report states. Most people, the report continues, recovered rapidly, and no one required hospitalization.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Canada: Polish immigrant killed by Taser

Robert Dziekanski, a 40-year old construction worker from Poland, arrived in Vancouver on Oct.14th to join his mother for a new life in British Columbia. After a 10-hour delay in immigration processing, Mr. Dziekanski became upset when her could not find his mother, who'd gone home under the mistaken impression that her son's flight had not arrived.

Unable to speak English and distressed at not being able to find his family, Mr. Dziekanski began shouting and moving furniture around, even pushing a computer off a table.

However, though he did not direct his violence toward any person, and despite other passenger's protests that he was only shouting for help, Mr. Dziekanski was dead within minutes of the arrival of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

Click here for full article and to see video footage of Robert Dziekanski's death at the hands of the Royal Canadian MPs.

Robert Dziekanski is jolted by a shot from an RCMP Taser.Robert Dziekanski is jolted by a shot from an RCMP Taser.
(Paul Pritchard)

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports:

The 10-minute video recording clearly shows four RCMP officers talking to Robert Dziekanski while he is standing with his back to a counter and with his arms lowered by his sides, but his hands are not visible.

About 25 seconds after police enter the secure area where he is, there is a loud crack that sounds like a Taser shot, followed by Dziekanski screaming and convulsing as he stumbles and falls to the floor.

Another loud crack can be heard as an officer appears to fire one more Taser shot into Dziekanski. As the officers kneel on top of Dziekanski and handcuff him, he continues to scream and convulse on the floor. One officer is heard to say, "Hit him again. Hit him again," and there is another loud cracking sound. Police have said only two Taser shots were fired, but a witness said she heard up to four Taser shots.

Robert Dziekanski falls to the floor as an RCMP officer looks on.Robert Dziekanski falls to the floor as an RCMP officer looks on.
(Paul Pritchard)

A minute and half after the first Taser shot was fired Dziekanski stops moaning and convulsing and becomes still and silent. Shortly after, the officers appear to be checking his condition and one officer is heard to say, "code red."

The video ends shortly after.

Four RCMP officers subdue Robert Dziekanski after stunning him with a Taser on Oct. 14 at Vancouver airport.Four RCMP officers subdue Robert Dziekanski after stunning him with a Taser on Oct. 14 at Vancouver airport.
(Paul Pritchard)

The New York Times reports:
Mr. Dziekanski was the 18th person to die since July 2003 after being hit by a Taser in Canada, a country where the weapons may be owned only by police forces. Amnesty International estimates that in the United States, a country with roughly nine times the population of Canada, 280 people have died after being struck by police Tasers since 2001. Tasers can also be used by civilians in many states.

Breast-feeding mother separated from child

NYT: Immigration Quandary: A Mother Torn From Her Baby 11/17/07

Click here for full article.

Federal immigration agents were searching a house in Ohio last month when they found a young Honduran woman nursing her baby.

The woman, SaĆ­da Umanzor, is an illegal immigrant and was taken to jail to await deportation. Her 9-month-old daughter, Brittney Bejarano, who was born in the United States and is a citizen, was put in the care of social workers.

The decision to separate a mother from her breast-feeding child drew strong denunciations from Hispanic and women’s health groups. Last week, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency rushed to issue new guidelines on the detention of nursing mothers, allowing them to be released unless they pose a national security risk.

The case exposes a recurring quandary for immigration authorities as an increasing number of American-born children of illegal immigrants become caught up in deportation operations. With the Bush administration stepping up enforcement, the immigration agency has been left scrambling to devise procedures to deal with children who, by law, do not fall under its jurisdiction because they are citizens.

“We are faced with these sorts of situations frequently, where a large number of individuals come illegally or overstay and have children in the United States,” said Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for the agency. “Unfortunately, the parents are putting their children in these difficult situations.”

About two-thirds of the children of the illegal immigrants detained in immigration raids in the past year were born in the United States, according to a study by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute, groups that have pushed for gentler deportation policies for immigrant families.

“Just thinking that I was going to leave my little girl, I began to feel sick,” Ms. Umanzor said of the baby. “I had a pain in my heart.”

Immigration agent charged with raping woman

Miami Herald, 11/17/07: Immigration agent charged with raping woman

An immigration agent driving a Jamaican woman from a Miami-Dade detention center to one in Broward took her to his home instead and raped her, according to federal criminal charges filed late Friday.

A criminal complaint filed in Miami federal court alleges that Wilfredo Vazquez, 35, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, sexually assaulted the 39-year-old Jamaican mother of two on the afternoon of Sept. 21 at his Tamarac home.

The woman said she was ''afraid'' of Vazquez, according to the three-count criminal complaint. She ``emphasized that Vazquez was wearing his firearm at all times, and she did not know what he was capable of doing to her.''

''I was scared for my life,'' the woman said in a telephone interview before being released. ``He had a gun. He's a big man, and I was in his custody. I expected him to protect me, not to take advantage of me.''

Little said the woman cried with relief when told Friday night about the arrest.

''It was such an emotional moment when I told her,'' Little said.

Vazquez denied several times to investigators that the incident happened or that he stopped other than to get gas, according to an affidavit by Homeland Security agent David Nieland.

But records from Florida's Turnpike SunPass electronic toll system showed Vazquez's official vehicle left the highway at a Commercial Boulevard ramp near his home, the affidavit said, and the woman described his home and neighborhood to investigators.

The Jamaican woman was being processed at Krome for transfer to Pompano Beach after being sentenced to time served in connection with a false claim to U.S. citizenship. Immigration officials planned to put her in deportation proceedings after having lived in in the United States for 12 years. She has a 20-year-old daughter and a young son.

She was at Krome's intake room when Vazquez noticed her among a crowd of male detainees, according to a statement she gave to her attorneys.

In that statement, the woman said the officer told intake officials he would drive her to the Pompano Beach facility. Then he turned to the woman and said: ``I'll rescue you, so you don't have to wait for them to process all the men.''

Before putting her in the back of a van, Vazquez took the handcuffs off the woman and allegedly said: ``I don't cuff females.''

A Broward Sheriff's Office report said Vazquez later stopped the van, after asking the woman if she was hungry, and said: ``You can sit in the front if you are going to be a good girl.''

Vazquez then asked the woman if she needed to make a phone call, handed her an earpiece and dialed calls to the woman's daughter and a friend.

After she finished the calls, the officer asked her if she was wearing ''federal underwear'' and to show it to him. ''I told him no,'' according to the statement.

Later, the officer called his wife on his cellphone to check if she was at home. ''He told me that she was not,'' the woman said in the statement.

Inside his home he asked her to ``take off those federal clothes.''

'I just stood there praying to myself, saying, `God, please don't let this man hurt me.' I was asking God to have mercy so this man wouldn't kill me. . . . All I could think of was . . . if he was crazy enough to bring me to his house and rape me, then what would he be willing to do to cover it up?''