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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

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  1. Psychological Abuse at the Northern Border

    by , 01-29-2010 at 08:18 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)






    I'm
    currently representing a citizen of Canada who has been placed in
    immigration court proceedings.  I can't get
    into the legal details of her case, but suffice it to say that she has no
    criminal convictions, no history of immigration violations, and has never in
    her life had any problems with violating the law, U.S. or otherwise.
    The main purpose of this blog post is to shed
    light on what is going on at our northern border and illuminate the treatment
    that non United States
    citizens and more specifically what Citizens of Canada are subjected to at the
    hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.In this particular
    instance, when my client arrived at the United States she was driving from
    Canada with her husband and two young children to go shopping.  After being sent to secondary inspection, the
    Customs and Border Protection Enforcement Officer "enforced" his will on my
    client and my client's family.My client
    was held with her children for six hours, and during this time her young children
    were not permitted to eat.  She and her
    husband were fingerprinted, had their pictures taken to simulate criminal prosecution,
    and she was told that if she did not cooperate and satisfactorily answer the
    officer's questions that both she and her husband would be taken into custody,
    and that child protection services would be immediately contacted who would then
    take her children from her.  They may as
    well have told her that they were going to chop off her arm, because it had the
    exact same desired effect.When my
    client heard that the United
    States government intended to take her
    children from her she literally let out an audible gasp, to which the officer
    replied: "So you think that's funny."  At
    this point my client was willing to sign anything put in front of her so long
    as she was assured that she would be allowed to go back to Canada with her
    children.  If this
    were an isolated incident I would chalk it up to a single rogue officer acting
    inappropriately.  Unfortunately, this
    incident is symptomatic of the systematic psychological abuse that regularly
    occurs at the hand of our Government. I say this because
    I regularly hear stories from clients of the psychological abuse that they are
    subjected to when merely trying to come to the United States to go shopping. 
    I have heard reports of individuals being handcuffed to
    radiators overnight, being denied access to the bathroom, and being screamed at
    that they were going to be held indefinitely, and that if they don't cooperate
    they are going to jail. 
    Inspecting
    officers are regularly abrasive, rude, unprofessional, and intimidating.  The government's modus operandi is to scare
    an individual to the point that they are willing to sign their life away.  It works.  What makes
    this type of abuse so effective is that at the border the investigating
    officers have the power to make summary determinations as to the eligibility of
    individuals to enter the United States, and if they believe that someone is not
    eligible to be admitted to the United States, or has misstated their intention
    in any material or in most cases non-material way, they have the power to bar
    that individual from the United States for a period of five years.  This process is called expedited
    removal.  When
    someone is expeditiously removed, they have no right to an attorney, no right
    to appear before a judge, and no right to appeal the determination of the
    inspecting officer.  The inspecting
    officer is in essence the judge, jury, and executioner.  Moreover, the individual is required to sign
    the expedited removal order, and their signature in many cases is obtained
    under threat of criminal prosecution. 
    When given the option, most people will sign anything just to be able to
    get back in their car and drive back to Canada.Needless to
    say, not all officers on our northern border act unprofessionally, but I have heard enough examples of
    ill treatment of Citizens of Canada from various ports of entry that I am
    convinced that this is not an isolated problem, and felt compelled to write
    about it.  I'm also making a formal
    inquiry with Customs and Border Protection.I agree
    that our Officers on the northern border have both a difficult and important
    job to do.  Terrorism is a very real and
    active threat to our country.  That being
    said, the severity of the threat to our country does not excuse this type of
    behavior and allowing it to continue is in essence our condoning it.  Our good neighbors to the north simply
    deserve better.
  2. Detainee Abuses Continue at the Elizabeth, New Jersey Detention Center

    by , 01-15-2010 at 09:45 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    As I have outlined in previous blog entries I am currently representing an individual who has been detained at the Elizabeth, N.J. Detention Center for the past six months.  Since being taken into immigration custody he has been deprived of his medication despite repeated requests.   I traveled to the center yesterday for a scheduled hearing on his application for asylum.  Unfortunately, the hearing was adjourned prior to testimony being taken. 
    In Court my client had visible symptoms of distress which included involuntary shivering, and listlessness, and he advised that he was suffering from severe dental pain.  My client indicated that he had asked to see a dentist but considering that he had been denied his medication for approximately six months he did not believe that would ever be provided with dental care. 
    Once back at my office I stumbled upon the following letter that was anonymously written on behalf of all the detainees in Elizabeth Detention Center.  Unfortunately, from what my client has indicated this letter is an accurate description of what life is like for the detainees in the facility.
    If you live in the State of New Jersey I implore you to contact your representatives in Congress to make an immediate inquiry into the Elizabeth Detention Center and demand that the doors be permanently closed.
    We Americans should be ashamed of what our government is doing to the unfortunate souls who have been locked away in a place that more closely resembles a Gulag than a temporary home for individuals whose only crime is that they were not born in the United States.
    "A letter from the Elizabeth (NJ) Immigrant Detention Center
    To Whom It May Concern.
     
    This letter is on behalf of all the inmates at the Elizabeth (Immigrant) Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  This "prison" or "detention center" is run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).  We have written this letter because of the mistreatment treatment from CCA Officers and the problems that this center has. 
     
    First of all, the CCA officers here have chosen a career working with the public.  They have an option to work here or not, and we are sure that there is no job requirement that states that they must treat people like animals as they do.  Many of the officers are obnoxious and rude.  They constantly curse at inmates and put them down. 
     
    We already have very low self-esteem because of being in custody for immigration issues; why make us feel even worse?  These officers are misusing their power.   Since we are in custody and not working, our families are having difficulty putting money in our accounts for phone cards, writing materials and, most importantly, snacks. 
     
    The Officers who are working and receiving a paycheck come to us and ask us for chocolate bars, coffee and other snacks.  Some officers also bring their personal life to work and take their frustrations out on us.  They constantly give us and our family who come to visit us attitudes.  They sometimes abuse their power and don't allow us to practice our religion.  Numerous times, inmates had to stop praying because an officer ordered them too.  In the middle of the night, the officers congregate in dorms, talk loud and constantly slam doors making it very uncomfortable to sleep.  They have no decency. 
     
    Another issue here is commissary.  Everything is overpriced to the fullest extent.  For example, a radio which costs $2-$3 costs us $26 to purchase from commissary.  We are not working and our families are suffering and being torn apart because the CCA is trying to make even more money off of us!  As for the snacks, most of them are expired or soon to be expired. 
     
    Not only are we being charged more for items, but they are also expired items!  Sixty to seventy percent of the soda, chips and other snacks are already expired before we get them.  In many instances, bird droppings have been found on soup boxes and bags of chips. 
     
    They ban us from having many things, even pencils.  Those who are in criminal jails are allowed to have more things than us and WE are not criminals!  According to ICE policy for detainees, it states that the facility is required to give us writing material at no cost.  It seems that the CCA does not want to follow that rule.  They charge us for pens, paper and envelopes.  Pens cost $0.30 each, a stamped envelope costs $0.51 and a notepad costs $0.90.  What happened to writing material at no cost?
     
    The phones here are a serious issue too.  They calls are too expensive and the lines have very poor quality.  There are only 2 phones for every 44 people.  A lot of us need to call lawyers to discuss our cases and we cannot do so because it is too expensive to make phone calls.  Local calls are so expensive; imagine how much they are charging us for international calls!  We are paying at least $20 a week just to be able to speak to our relatives or lawyers for only 10 minutes.
     
    As for the food here, the issues vary from day to day.  The food is usually overcooked.  The trays that we are served in are not clean.  The portions are too small.  If you are still hungry, they DO NOT ALLOW you to take an extra tray.  They would rather throw out all the food than allow us to have a little more to fill us up. 
     
    If we are in visitation or religious services during meal time, they do not save any hot lunch for us, they just throw it out.  We are lucky if we are allowed to get a cold lunch when we come back from visitation. The food has no flavor and they do not give us salt and pepper.  It seems that they want us to starve.
     
    According to immigration laws, they can hold people for 90 - 180 days, but for some reason some people have been here for years.  Some people in this facility have been here over a year.  This facility was not made to accommodate people for over a year. 
     
    There are no exercise rooms or recreational activities administered here.  An hour in a room with 3 holes in the ceiling should not count as outdoor rec.  The room is dirty and dusty.  Why are we not allowed to have fresh air?  Why are we not allowed to see the sun? 
     
    The air-conditioning system always leaks water on our beds.  We have complained many times but they never do anything about it.  Some dorms have mold growing which is not healthy for us to breath in. 
     
    Again, complaints have been made but no one does anything about it.  There have also been instances where insects were found.  We are the ones who are required to clean our dorms.  They make us clean the bathroom, shower area, toilets, mop and dust. 
     
    Whenever inspectors, investors, or government officials come to see the facility, they make us clean more so that the rooms can be spotless.  They also treat us better in front of these people.  Little do they know, it is all a show so that their facility can pass inspection or so that they gain another investor! 
     
    There have also been times where they have shut down water in dorms for long hours.  During this time, we have no water to drink, or to wash up. Some days there is no soap for us to wash our hands or shower with.  The bathroom or dorm has no ventilation.  The bathroom is also open into the dorm.  Imagine how the room smells when people go to the bathroom!  Disgusting! 
     
    We don't know how they clean our clothing either.  There have been many times when they return our laundry with more stains  on it, stains that weren't there when we gave them our dirty laundry. 
     
    The razors that they give us seem to be old and reused.  They tell us that they are new but there are times where we have found hair in them before we even use them; this is hazardous to our health.  The dorms are always cold. 
     
    Now that the weather is cooler, they have not turned down the AC.  The officers walk around with jackets but as for us, we are not given that.  We are always cold, especially at night.  They do not allow us to have extra blankets to keep warm.
     
    A major issue here is medical care.  The response time is very poor.  It takes 4 - 5 days to be admitted for medical care.  The medical facility is less than 100 feet away from the dorms, why does it take so long to get help?  The nurses have attitudes and make judgments on our health without even checking us.  It also seems that the nurses or medical staff are not trained.  They hand out the wrong medicine. 
     
    Technically this is considered malpractice which is a serious offense, but I guess that rule does not apply to us.  No matter what problem you are having, they always give you aspirin.  It seems that is the easiest way to get rid of us.  There is also no way to get dental care here at this facility.  If you have a toothache, they resort to giving us pain killers or the option of pulling out the tooth! 
     
    There was a case where a woman had so much pain from a toothache that she was constantly crying out loud and requesting help.  Instead of getting a dentist to help her, the CCA officers put her in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) which is supposed to be used for people with mental health problems or it is used as punishment for those with poor behavior.  Was she supposed to be punished for having a toothache?
     
    We are not criminals and we do not pose any harm to anyone.  When we are taken out of the facility to go to our country's embassy, they handcuff our hands and feet when leaving the vehicle.  This is very embarrassing for us when people look at us while we are walking from the vehicle to the building. 
     
    We are escorted through airports also wearing hand and foot cuffs, portraying us as terrorists in front of people at the airport.  People get scared when they see us and this also makes us psychologically weak and is very emotional for us. 
     
    As for being deported, there have been times where inmates have missed their flights because of CCA officers.  Detainees are kept in caged vehicles with no food or access to restrooms for 8 or 9 hours until another flight is available. 
     
    Here at the facility, there is one television per dorm which houses 44 people.  We are not allowed to control the TV.  The CCA officers are the only ones that can change the channel.  They always keep it on Spanish TV which is unfair to many of us who speak English and are not of Spanish descent. 
     
    They restrict us to having only 3 books or magazines.  This is ridiculous.  They barely give us recreational time, what do they expect us to do during count time for 30 - 45 minutes when we must stay by our beds.  How many times can we possibly read the same 3 books or magazines?
     
    Sometimes they allow us to work in the facility.  They pay us $1.00 a day if we work.  We can work for hours but they still only pay $1.00 a day.  Are we not even allowed to get minimum wage?  We can't even buy a plastic cup or a safety soon with $1.00.
     
    What about our families who come to visit us?  The visitation area only has 12 booths for the male detainees and 6 booths for female.  There are 300 detainees here, many of which are male, are 12 booths enough for them for visitation? 
     
    Sometimes there are so many people waiting outside on line to come to see us and they cannot because there is no room in visitation.  On those days, we are not given a chance to see our loved ones.  In criminal jails, they allow conjugal visits, but as for us, we pose no harm to the public, instead of granting us conjugal visits, they make us talk to our relatives through glass windows and telephones.
     
    The biggest issue here is Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).  People wait for months before they are told the real reasons why they are detained here.  Sometimes, deportation officers don't show up for months to answer some of the detainee's questions.  When we do ask questions, we are given vague answers like "YOUR CASE IS PENDING" or "BE PATIENT". 
     
    ICE officers run away when we have questions pertaining to why were housed there, when or if we will be able to go home, or why we aren't being given custody reviews after our 90 day period has passed.  As for information to help us, there are documents posted on walls with phone numbers and addresses to our embassies.  Many of this information has not been updated, most of the address and phone numbers are incorrect, making it impossible to get in touch with our native countries embassy. 
     
    We are suffering here and no one wants to listen to us.  No one wants to hear what we have to say.  We cannot complain to ICE or the CCA because if we do, they treat us even worse.  The United States should be ashamed at the way they are treating us humans. 
     
    THANK YOU FOR READING TO WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY."
  3. New York Times Reports that ICE Covers-up the Abuse of Immigrants Held in Immigration Detention

    by , 01-11-2010 at 06:26 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)

    My Client has been held in the Elizabeth, N.J. Detention Facility for approximately six months.  The moment he was taken into ICE custody at the border crossing at Buffalo, New York he advised the detaining officers that he has a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment. 

     
    After being taken into custody in Buffalo, ICE moved my client to the Detention Facility in Batavia, New York.  Approximately one week later they moved him again to the Detention Facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  The facility in Batavia is about a thirty minute drive from my office in Buffalo, New York, and is both clean and professional.  The Detention facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey is approximately 400 miles from my office, and is a vile and disgusting windowless warehouse. 

     
    The move was made by ICE despite the fact that the Court with jurisdiction over the port of entry where my client was taken into custody was in Buffalo, and that ICE was on notice that my client was being represented by counsel in Buffalo, New York. 

     
    Since being taken away from his lawyer and being moved to New Jersey my client's medical condition has worsened. The Detention Facility in Elizabeth has ignored his repeated requests for treatment, and continues to hold him despite an urgent medical need. 

     
    As a result of the deprivation of medical care my client has been unable to assist in his own defense, thereby depriving him of his right to a fundamentally fair hearing.  We filed a motion to terminate his case which was denied by the Immigration Judge. 

     
    We are scheduled for another hearing this week on the issue of political asylum.  My client has no criminal convictions, and has established a preliminary fear of persecution, and yet he languishes in immigration custody without his medicine.

     
    It is both shocking and disgusting that this type of barbarism is allowed to continue and is covered up by the very animals that hold the keys to the cages.

    What has our country come to?

    "The Obama administration has vowed to overhaul immigration detention, a haphazard network of privately run jails, federal centers and county cells where the government holds noncitizens while it tries to deport them.
    But as the administration moves to increase oversight within the agency, the documents show how officials -- some still in key positions -- used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse." ~Nina Berstein, New York Times published 1-9-10









  4. Obama's Immigration Policy: Enforcement First, Reform Later, but Don't Hold Your Breath

    by , 01-07-2010 at 06:39 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The New York Times has reported that Federal immigration officials detained nine immigrants on January 6, 2010 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and ordered 49 more that were stopped to report to federal authorities for a determination of whether they are in the

    Updated 04-12-2016 at 01:11 PM by MKolken

  5. Immigration activist texts warnings about sheriff's sweeps

    by , 01-04-2010 at 08:21 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)







     
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