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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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The New York Times reports this morning on the death of a Hong Kong-born detainee who came to the US as a teenager in 1992 and who was married to a US citizen and the father of two American citizen children. Hiu Liu Ng was not a criminal. He had overstayed a visa and was put in detention, according to the story, when he was in the middle of green card processing. Here are some of the important details reported in the story:

In April, Mr. Ng began complaining of excruciating back pain. By
mid-July, he could no longer walk or stand. And last Wednesday, two
days after his 34th birthday, he died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
in a Rhode Island hospital, his spine fractured and his body riddled
with cancer that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for months.


In federal court affidavits, Mr. Ng's lawyers contend that when he
complained of severe pain that did not respond to analgesics, and grew
too weak to walk or even stand to call his family from a detention pay
phone, officials accused him of faking his condition. They denied him a
wheelchair and refused pleas for an independent medical evaluation.

Instead, the affidavits say, guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention
Facility in Central Falls, R.I., dragged him from his bed on July 30,
carried him in shackles to a car, bruising his arms and legs, and drove
him two hours to a federal lockup in Hartford, where an immigration
officer pressured him to withdraw all pending appeals of his case and
accept deportation.

"For this desperately sick, vulnerable
person, this was torture," said Theodore N. Cox, one of Mr. Ng's
lawyers, adding that they want to see a videotape of the transport made
by guards.

Immigration and detention officials would not discuss
the case, saying the matter was under internal investigation. But in
response to a relative of Mr. Ng's who had begged that he be checked
for a spinal injury or fractures, the Wyatt detention center's director
of nursing, Ben Candelaria, replied in a July 16 e-mail message that
Mr. Ng was receiving appropriate care for "chronic back pain." He
added, "We treat each and every detainee in our custody with the same
high level of quality, professional care possible."

It is hard enough to read this story. It would be easier to absorb the news if we could dismiss what happened as an isolated incident. But those of you who read this blog know that there have been numerous other examples and that the problem of detainee health care is so great that there have been congressional hearings. Obviously, ICE still has not adequately addressed the issue.

Incidentally, some may be wondering how Mr. Ng ended up in deportation proceedings since he was married to a US citizen. The Times reports that he entered on a tourist visa, then later applied for political asylum. The asylum application was denied and Mr. Ng was placed in deportation proceedings several years later. Unfortunately, his notice of his deportation hearing was sent to an incorrect address and he was ordered deported without ever getting the opportunity to defend his case. Sadly, he would have probably had a very good claim to stay in the US due to his being married and having children and having been in the US for more than ten years.

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  1. Grace's Avatar
    I am heartsick at reading this story. All that I can think is that by constantly dehumanizing immigrants, legal and illegal, it becomes all too easy for guards to ignore obvious physical distress and decline of an inmate. Lou Dobbs, FAIR and many other anti-immigrant cheerleaders have blood on their hands, in my opinion.

    I also hope that after the elections this fall, we get meaningful change in leadership and mission at DHS - incarcerating non-criminals and effectively imposing a death sentence on them for status offenses does not protect the U.S., its citizens, or its interests. How does letting a father of two US citizens die in agony protect us from terrorism, or improve our "homeland security"?
  2. AD's Avatar
    "Sadly, he would have probably had a very good claim to stay in the US due to his being married and having children and having been in the US for more than ten years."

    Hmm, what is this rule? Seems like it can be used by people in the EB queue who have crossed 10 years of presence in the US while waiting for a green card.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    As I told you...communism has come to America..Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung will be very proud of our DHS. Good job fellow Americans!
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    "Lou Dobbs, FAIR and many other anti-immigrant cheerleaders have blood on their hands, in my opinion."

    Actually it is the racist Mark Kirkorian's (of the CIS) vision for America...and oh yes a vision for America according to racists such as Heather MacDonald and Steven "Malarkey" Malanga of the Manhattan Institute...communism in America!
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