Detention and Deportation Await Those Seeking Asylum in America

Hussein Mohamed took a hard road to America. Born into a minority clan in a nation rife with ethnic conflict, the boyish 24-year-old with gangly limbs and intense brown eyes describes fleeing his village in Somalia in 2012 after gunmen threatened to kill him. Mohamed says he was forced to quit his jobs as an English teacher and taxi driver and escape to neighboring Kenya. After making his way to South Africa, he forked over his life savings to human smugglers, who shipped him across the Atlantic to Brazil and guided him north through the jungles of South and Central America into Mexico.

When he finally arrived at a border crossing in Brownsville, Texas, last summer, Mohamed thought he'd safely reached the end of a harrowing 10-month journey. He had no inkling of the ordeal awaiting him on the other side of the Rio Grande.

Mohamed approached a U.S. Border Patrol agent and recounted his story. He explained that he wanted to seek asylum, a classification of refugee status granted to people who arrive in the United States having fled persecution in their homeland. He immediately was handcuffed and placed in immigration detention: a cold, cramped cell at a privately owned and operated prison facility. Soon after, along with hundreds of other detainees, he was herded onto a cargo plane and transferred without explanation to a jail in Newark, New Jersey.

Eight months later, Mohamed is seated in the jail's makeshift visitor center, a stuffy gymnasium with rows of plastic chairs and tables arranged on the basketball court. It has been more than a year since he spoke with his family in Somalia, and he fears the worst. He knows exactly one person in America, a fellow Somali immigrant who lives somewhere in California. He dreams of moving there, finding work, maybe starting a family.

Instead, he likely will be deported, shipped back to the war-torn country on the Horn of Africa he worked so hard to escape. Mohamed's request for asylum was denied because he lacks a passport or other documents to confirm his identity. He has filed an appeal, and his detention ticks on indefinitely.

There are no statutory limits to the amount of time a non-citizen like Mohamed may be held in immigration detention. When the process goes smoothly, asylum seekers tend to be released in a matter of weeks. Many end up imprisoned for much longer. About 6,000 survivors of torture — exiles from Iran, Myanmar, Syria, and other brutal regimes — were detained in immigration jails while seeking asylum during the past three years, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Victims of Torture.

"It's really tragic," says Amelia Wilson, staff attorney for the American Friends Service Committee, a faith-based organization that aids asylum seekers. "They're fleeing persecution, and many of them have just fled institutions of incarceration in their home country. Through guile or luck or the right contacts, they manage to get out of their country. They come here and they're promptly detained. They're shocked. They're not criminals. In fact, they're following the legal procedure the government has put in place for them to get protection."

Over the past five months, Voice Media Group visited detainees at two immigration detention centers and conducted extensive interviews with outreach workers, attorneys, academics, and other experts on the asylum process. The investigation revealed how a process created to save innocent lives has come to embody some of the worst aspects of American immigration policy: The nation's system of mass deportations and incarceration has devastating consequences for vulnerable individuals who seek nothing more than safety and a new beginning.

The immigration overhaul the Senate passed in June 2013 addresses several issues with asylum, but the legislation remains stalled in the House of Representatives. Raising concerns about fraudulent claims, some Republican leaders now are pushing draconian measures that would put even more asylum seekers behind bars. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, has said the asylum system is "exploited by illegal immigrants in order to enter and remain in the United States."

"The tone of immigration politics, even when it comes to asylum seekers, has gotten really vicious." Staunchly on the other side of this argument is Alina Das, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the New York University School of Law: "People generally have forgotten what it means to be seeking asylum in our country. It's really disturbing, and I think it's a sad commentary on how easily a minority of elected officials can hijack an issue that should really speak to core American values."

Though the political climate looks bleak for advocates of asylum reform, an ongoing pilot project offers a glimmer of hope. The project allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at facilities in New York City, Newark, San Antonio, Chicago, and Minneapolis-St. Paul to release select detainees seeking asylum into a program coordinated by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. As of March 31, the program has helped secure temporary housing and social services for 32 people, including survivors of torture, victims of domestic abuse, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, all of whom would otherwise have remained jailed indefinitely.

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40 comments
ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Selling human beings and children for cash. Should be criminal. 

Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme
http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1595586849
"When thirteen-year-old Matthew appeared in front of Judge Mark Ciavarella for throwing a piece of steak at his mother’s boyfriend, he was sentenced to seven weeks at PA Child Care, a private, for-profit juvenile detention center in northeastern Pennsylvania. Angelia was fourteen when she and a friend scrawled “Vote for Michael Jackson” on five stop signs. Charged with vandalism and defacing public property, Angelia was sent by Ciavarella to PA Child Care without her epilepsy medication and suffered a grand mal seizure her second night. Fifteen-year-old Charlie, arrested for unknowingly purchasing a stolen motorbike, was convicted of a felony and sent to PA Child Care for six weeks.

Matthew, Angelia, and Charlie are just three children among the thousands who appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom between 2003 and 2008 and were sent away—often with no attorney present and after only cursory hearings—to a detention facility in which, it later came to light, Ciavarella had a personal financial stake. As Kids for Cash reveals, this miscarriage of justice underscores a multitude of problems with our juvenile justice system, which too often criminalizes standard adolescent behavior, treats adolescents more harshly than if they were adults, and denies them their most fundamental constitutional rights.

William Ecenbarger, a Pulitzer Prize and George Polk Award–winning investigative journalist who covered the case for thePhiladelphia Inquirer, now gives us the first book-length account of this shocking story. In the tradition of true-crime legal thrillers from The Executioner’s Song to A Civil Action, Ecenbarger exposes a deeply corrupt and broken system that ruined the lives of many children and ultimately led to the judge’s conviction on charges of racketeering, fraud, tax violations, money laundering, extortion, and bribery. Fastidiously researched and utterly propulsive, Kids for Cash takes us deep inside a profoundly flawed legal system, revealing the twisted and haunting realities of America’s juvenile justice system." 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

.


                 Arizona = The Hate State

arizonanewtimes.com
arizonanewtimes.com

Asylum is a big fucking joke -- and nothing but smoke and mirrors. Deport them all.

mjazzguitar
mjazzguitar

About the that Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service- out of approximately $31.5 million in annual income, $30 million is from government grants and contracts, in other words, from us, US taxpayers.  Their CEO makes over $200,000 in salary and benefits.


Taintthatbad
Taintthatbad

Hussein Mohamed should have stopped at any one of the countries he went through to request asylum there.  As a world traveler I know two things about the foreigner's opinion on the USA's immigration.  (A rather strong opinion at that).  1) Most everyone I have talked to wants to come to live in the United States. 2) They feel (if they were an immigrant) that they have a RIGHT to our social economic security.  These are good friends I made there for whom I could have an open conversation about this subject (with help from a few beers too).


But, when I bring up how difficult it is to get a long term visa or working visa in their country they tell me, "yes of course it's difficult to get a visa here (Bolivia or Indonesia).  But many people want to live in my country because it is cheap to live here compared to other places".  In Bolivia I have non-indigenous friends that have lived there more than 20 years and wanted to become a citizen but the country does not allow that.  All they were able to get is longterm visas renewed every five years.  This a norm for many many countries!  It's very difficult to live and have a job in many foreign countries. 


This story doesn't mention if Hussein crossed the U.S. border illegally but I suspect he was because why would he be arrested.  However, in any case people coming to the U.S. must have their documents.  How can we know who this person is?  Other countries would put you in jail for doing the same thing.


Look, he is probably healthier today than he was when he came to the U.S.  We (taxpayers) have been giving him 3 square meals every day!  In the end, I have no sympathy because I know he was coming here for a free ride.  But, if he's a good person, which I'm sure he is, hopefully he can come back with help from those amnesty groups and do legal immigration and I and people like me will welcome him.  


But in the end I have no sympathy for someone coming here illegally!  Good conversation.      

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

Mr. Mohamed should have stayed in South Africa - there is no legitimate reason for him to be here or for the United States to take him in. Our population is hurling towards the 400 million mark and still suffering from enormous unemployment, wage-stagnation, wealth disparity and ever more strained resources. ICE should be commended for doing what it can to prevent America from turning into the developing world's safety valve. 

pskully57
pskully57

Lots of good crisp hate on here...

Sayitaintso
Sayitaintso

Not if they would just detain and deport all of the cockroach illegal Mexicans then it would be a much better place.

DNichols
DNichols

"America is great because it is good, when it ceases to be good, it ceases to be great."

Alex De Tocqueville

A very wise 1840's French Historian.

To: Good.

DNichols
DNichols

January 2008 bagan the I.C.E. Hitleresque Incarceration/Deportation Programs, and "The Great Recession"?!

Good hard working Christian Mothers, and Fathers have been ripped away from thier legal citizen Children, even Babies.

Since January 2008 start of I.C.E.

 Over one hundred immigrants have died in I.C.E. custody.

Over fifteen thousand un-documented immigrants have been held in prison for years with out even charges.

Over Five Thousand Children of un-documented immigrants are now in U.S. Foster Care.

Over Forty Thousand Hispanic Human Beings now lay dead at the harsh U.S. Mexico Border where I.C.E. has Deported/Dumped Hundreds of Thousands of Human Beings with nothing not even water into a known Drug War to be killed, or to Die of the harsh elements in the Desesrt.

This Great Nation of Immigrants was Built on Far Better Principles, and Values than this.

As an American the map of Private "Profiteering"  Detentions Centers all over America makes me SICK!

This is our I.C.E.'d Economy.

I.C.E. "Put the Car in the Ditch."

To: Good, and Brotherhood from Sea to shining Sea?!

robert_graham
robert_graham

What, no comments on this link? You guys are slacking!

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@robert_graham  quick question for you Robert, how can a lie get them through? if it could, that means the system is broken and you say the system isnt broken, its just that laws are being broken. lies are not illegal. why are you so against correcting the problems we have with illegal immigration? reform is how you fix the problem. read the dictionary and look up the word "REFORM" you have been on here for a long long time howling and crying and bucking against reforming the system, yet you always say you want to stop illegal immigration. if you dont want to fix the system but you want to stop illegal immigration............you are lying about stopping "ILLEGAL" immigration, you just want to stop immigration. you are flip-flopping on your own cause. with the problems we have with the system, illegal immigrants arent the problem, they are a result of a problem

DNichols
DNichols

@armondo

Adolph Hitler would agree with your Ideals, and would praise what I.C.E. has done dumping Hundreds of Thousands Humans to Die at the harsh U.S. Mexico Border with out even water

Prior to Tens of thousands of dwellings being vacated by this ethnic cleansing campaign, America's Economy was Strong with no "Wage-stagnation".

The Hard Labor Immigrants gladly did for America was the very backbone of our strong Economy,  prior to the January 2008 start of I.C.E. .

We should have told them thank you for thier Hard Labor, and came up with a way for the good to obtain legal status.

DNichols
DNichols

@pskully57

It is sad to see Americans so filled with Hatred.

DNichols
DNichols

@sayitsracist

When you single out "Mexicans" you clearly show your Racism, and Hate.

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@DNichols you know what makes me sick ass wipes like you blaming everyone except the person(s) who created the situation in the 1st place. Your wrath should be directed towards the Hispanic community they are the ones most likely responsible for enticing their brethren to make the deadly trip in the first place, the majority of time its the Hispanics who go out and secure jobs and housing for their illegal relatives and its they who have the biggest mouths blaming every one else when the law comes crashing down on them.

robert_graham
robert_graham

@danzigsdaddy Okay then maybe you're right it is broken -- our laws aren't enforced.  That must change.  With all the high unemployemt we cannot afford to welcome 20+ million illegals here with open arms. If they come here legally that's a whole different ballgame but what about jobs for Americans like you and me? We don't owe undocumented immigrants anything!

robert_graham
robert_graham

@DNichols Is that so?  Well then instead of dumping them at the border, maybe it would have been more humane and appropriate if ICE gave them a  room at the Hilton hotel instead?  Nobody forced them to come here.

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@DNichols I wasn't aware that illegal immigrants held high positions in the banking industry on wall street back in 2008. Well its like they say you learn something new everyday

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DNichols  Gosh nicky, I bet you define  "hatred" as anything and anyone with a different opinion than you.  Who's the bigot nicky?  

robert_graham
robert_graham

@DNichols We are not only singling out Hispanics -- it just seems that way.  When was the last time you heard about an illegal alien Asian crossing the border from Mexico?

robert_graham
robert_graham

@john043012 Oh is that right? Yes, who created the situation in the first place, illegals from Ireland?

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@john043012  the illegals arent the problem John, we are. our laws and government are such a mess we are creating openings for illegals to come. we have skyrocketing taxes, so the employers want to make more money to pay those taxes and have a bigger profit.............that creates the demand for cheap labor. we have law enforcement NOT going after the people who then hire the cheap labor which then encourages more people to seek cheap labor, that re-enforces the problem. if you have ants all over your kitchen because its a mess, you dont just kill the ants, you clean up the mess that is drawing the ants into your kitchen. the ants arent the problem, the mess is.

Sayitaintso
Sayitaintso

@john043012 Amen.  Go sneak into their sh!thole country and demand they give you benefits and housing, etc and see how fast you get thrown in jail.  Then they complain when we do it.  Noting but hypocrites.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@robert_graham you are almost seeing the whole problem now Robert. i just want to drop another little thing for you to mull over............................the illegals arent complaining or demanding anything........................thats actually the activists. dont believe for one second that its the illegals doing all the crying that they are owed anything. the illegals are actually rolling over and accepting the punishment they get. you are blaming the wrong people

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@DNichols Mesa is a shit hole in some area's it looks like Detroit the reason there is a high rate of vacancies is due to the filthy dwellings there outdated and need to be leveled.

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

@DNichols    Please tell us the name of one nation state on earth that doesn't reserve the right to regulate and moderate the flow of foreign nationals across its border. 

DNichols
DNichols

@ John

Nice name calling like a little baby.

My home town of Mesa Arizona had the highest foreclosure rate in the Nation, this is why President Obama visited Dobson High after just taking office.

Mesa Az. was dubbed "The Foreclosure Epicenter of the Nation".

This was due to vacated Immigrants dwellings no matter who owned them.

Do you honestly believe that Millions of displaced people, and Tens of thousands of thier vacated dwellings at the exact same time as the housing Market crashing had any thing to do with it?!

Enjoy your "Bliss".

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@DNichols My reply, nice rant you are an idiot. Only a small percentage of the people you champion owned anything of real value and those people didn't go anywhere they are still here the ones being captured and deported are the ones being captured at the border .

DNichols
DNichols

@John

A mass exodus of un-documented Immigrants began in advance of the upcoming January 2008 start of the Hitleresque I.C.E. Deportation/Incarceration Programs.

The U.S. Housing Market was flooded with vacant dwellings, this trend mushroomed with the I.C.E. Deportations, and Incarcerations of Millions of "HUman Beings".

The Bubble was "Burst".

Due to the Massive number of now vacant homes, and apartments they began Massive forclosure , then as U.S. Home values plummeted tens of thousands more homes were let go into forclosure by Americans that wanted the Banks to take the financial hit now that they owed more than the homes new plummeted value.

No Banking System in the World could have withstood the Foreclosure Damage caused by I.C.E!

Yes this is our I.C.E.'d Economy, and hell yes I.C.E. absolutely "Put the Car in the Ditch."

The Great Recession never needed to happen, if only the U.S. would have come up with a "Responsible" Reform for its Broken Immigration System.

Don't blame Bankers for a Government Policy Change of Ethnic Cleansing that caused the Great Recession?!

To: Economy 101.

robert_graham
robert_graham

@john043012 @robert_grahamOr anybody besides. Come here legally and I'll welcome them.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@robert_graham you are letting your hate blind you to where the problem lays. are the illegals why we keep sending jobs to other countries? its called outsourcing and is how we get cheap labor. why arent you howling about that? those are jobs citizens could have. by ignoring that and only concentrating on the work force we have created a demand for here, you are ignoring the real problem. if you want to stop the problem............start seeing the whole problem, not just the effects of the problem

 
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