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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

DEAD AND FORGOTTEN

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The New York Times, which has rightly earned a reputation for providing perhaps the most in depth immigration coverage of any newspaper in the country, has an important story this morning on how Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not been forthcoming on reporting deaths of detainees in its custody. Nina Bernstein's outstanding report initially focuses on the death of Ahmad Tanveer, a Pakistani New Yorker who died in 2005 at the Monmouth County Correctional Facility in Freehold, New Jersey.

The difficulty of confirming the very existence of the dead man,
Ahmad Tanveer, 43, a Pakistani New Yorker, shows how death can fall
between the cracks in immigration detention, the rapidly growing
patchwork of more than 500 county jails, profit-making prisons and
federal detention centers where half a million noncitizens were held
during the last year while the government tried to deport them.


The case underscores the secrecy and lack of legal accountability that
continue to shield the system from independent oversight, despite years
of escalating Congressional inquiries and new efforts by Obama
administration appointees to promote transparency.

"We still
do not know, and we cannot know, if there are other deaths that have
never been disclosed by ICE, or that ICE itself knows nothing about,"
said Tom Jawetz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union,
which has been battling in court for months to obtain government
records on all detention deaths, including the Freehold case and those
named on the first government list, obtained by The New York Times
under the Freedom of Information Act and published last year.


Even now, most questions about Mr. Tanveer are unanswered, including
just who he was and why he had been detained. The rescue of his death
from oblivion took a rare mix of chance, vigilance by a few citizen
activists, litigation by the civil liberties union and several months
of inquiry by The Times. Even as the newspaper confirmed Mr. Tanveer's
death with jail officials, and tracked his body's path from a Freehold
morgue to the cargo hold of an airplane at Kennedy Airport,
immigration authorities maintained that they could find no documents
showing such a person was ever detained, or died in their custody.


Read this story and pass it on.

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Comments

  1. Dig Deeper's Avatar
    This is very outrageous! Immigrants without proper documents are treated like animals worse than dogs!

    This matter should be investigated and the culprits should be brought to justice. I don't understand why the deportation process is so long if the intereted party agrees to be deported.

    It is vey sad that Mr. Tanveer came to the US following his dream of a good life and his dead body was sent via Cargo to his homeland.
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