Community Plans to Mourn in Jackson Heights as Police Already Visit Threats Upon Deportees’ Families with News of Return
Contact: B. Loewe, #Not1More, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773.791.4668
April 4, 2016 – Late Sunday night, advocates at DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) received a call from a detainee at Florence detention center reporting several busloads of South Asian men who had been transferred there en masse were being loaded on to buses in the middle of the night. By Monday afternoon, many of the asylum-seekers were listed as “no longer in custody” in the detainee tracker, a status associated with either being released or deported.
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities refused inquiries from lawyers and Congressional offices seeking answers to what happened to the men the nearly 100 asylum-seeking migrants of Indian, Bangladeshi, and Nepali origin.
If deported as is suspected to be the case, many of them, especially Punjabi Sikhs from India and Bangladeshis associated with the opposition Bangladesh National Party, are being sent to life threatening danger. The group is the first of at least 400 still detained who advocates believe are slated for removal to danger as well, prompting supporters to use the hashtag #Deported2Death
One of the men likely deported Monday, Mr. Singh, made crying pleas over the phone beforehand saying “My family has already been visited by the police in India, where they abused my family and threatened that they will ‘teach me a lesson’ when I am returned.”
Many of those likely deported were the same detainees who launched the #FreedomGiving hunger strikes last Fall out of fear of what would happen if returned to the countries they fled from and to bring attention to the discriminatory treatment they were receiving in detention and in immigration proceedings as South Asians or as Muslims, with excessively long detention periods, low rates of parole, and high rates of bond amounts.
In recent weeks, news of their imminent removal prompted calls from Congressional representatives such as Crowley, Honda, and Chu to delay any deportation and allow the men to have their cases fully heard. The AFL-CIO, APALA, MPower, and others joined in voicing concern and driving calls to the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to prevent their return to danger.
Even with complaints pending with the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties within the Department of Homeland Security, authorities have not paused in their removal pursuit, exposing the men to even greater danger by by having their names and asylum claims being exposed to the same government they were seeking asylum from in violation of federal and international laws.
“DHS is deporting the victims of and the witnesses to DHS’ violations of federal law,” said Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director of DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving. “While many are talking about the danger of blatant disregards of due process, and demands for anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant laws from candidates Trump and Cruz, the current administration is already vigorously implementing those policies and practices,” he added.
One of the Bangladeshi men reported that “they had promised all my information would be kept private when I applied for asylum. But after the US government gave our names and asylum information to the Bangladeshi government, my home was visited by the police, and then my home was attacked by unknown men, and now my family is living in hiding.”
Last week, DRUM and supporters rallied outside Clinton Campaign Headquarters to demand that presidential candidate Clinton and candidate Sanders speak out publicly and take action to pressure DHS to halt the imminent deportations of the South Asian migrants. The Clinton campaign greeted the protesters, but it did not address the cases of the men threatened with removal while the Sanders campaign issued a response yesterday, after the suspected first round of removals, saying the deportation of the hunger strikers is ‘wrong.’
“In the last 6 months, the detainees have been victims to Civil Rights violations,” said Gregory Cendana, APALA’s Executive Director. “We have to keep pressuring the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security in order to halt further deportations. We must see to it that these men find the justice they deserve and continue to fight the mass criminalization of our communities and all people of color.”
On this Friday afternoon, former detainees and hunger strikers and community members will hold a symbolic funeral in Jackson Heights to commemorate those who have been deported to life threatening danger, to highlight the Obama administration’s #Deported2Death policies, and to continue to pressure Congressional leaders, Candidates, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department to ensure the safety of those deported back to countries they are seeking asylum from.
Follow #Deported2Death and #Not1More on Twitter.
Please join DRUM and the #Not1More Campaign in calling on DHS and the State Department to stop their removal
and allow them to pursue their asylum claims.
I am writing in support of the Bangladeshi detainees that are currently facing deportations back to imminent danger.
I urge you consider their requests, including that:
– ICE should stop their deportations which would cause them imminent danger, including imprisonment and death
– Allow a fair hearing for their cases and redress for the multiple violations of their civil and human rights
– Release of the detainees from detention to provide them the ability to prepare their cases.
– Allow people who remain detained to be transferred to detention facilities that are closer to their families
– A stop to disparate and discriminatory treatment of South Asian detainees (through prolonged detention, legal interference, and extremely high bond amounts)
I am also aware that some of these asylum seekers have already been exposed to representatives of the same government that they have sought asylum from, and that the names of all the detainees who face deportation have been publicized by Bangladeshi media thus further endangering their lives.
I join the demand for an immediate halt to their deportations.