Another Immigrant Death in Detention–New York Times

I was sent this article from the front page of the New York Times about another death in immigration detention, this time in New Jersey. The heartbreaking story, which highlights the difficulties in even finding an accurate accounting of the deaths that have taken place in immigration detention. Ahmed Tanveer’s death was recorded in a handwritten note of a fellow detainee and it took the persistent efforts of civil rights and civil liberties groups and acitivists to get details about the case or to even get confirmation that the man had been imprisoned and died while in custody from the Department of Homeland Security. Read the whole story at <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/nyregion/03detain.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp>

Mentally Ill Man with Open Case, Deported back to India 2 days After Obama Inaugurated, is Now Missing

This case came to our attention through Dimple Rana at Deported Diaspora. In a tragic turn of event, Harvey Sachdev, who has lived in the United States for more than 40 years, was deported to India even though his case is still open on appeal. Unfortunately, Sachdev suffers from schizophrenia and has been missing since his arrival in New Delhi. Read the press release about Sachdev’s case below.

Want to do something to to demand human rights for immigrants who are in detention and who regularly face due process violations? Take a minute to sign this petition to President Obama encouraging him to consider these violations as he staffs and restructures the Department of Homeland Security (the Executive agency that oversees many key operations including Immigration and Customs Enforcement) here <http://www.rightsworkinggroup.org/?q=DHSPetition>

PRESS RELEASE:
Mentally Ill Man with Open Case, Deported 2 days After Obama Inaugurated, is Now Missing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For more information, contact:
Neena Sachdev, nks29@cox.net
Greg Pleasants, JD/MSW, (213) 389-2077, ext. 19, gpleasants@mhas-la.org
Dimple Rana, (781) 521-4544, dimple.scorpio@gmail.com

Washington DC Area Family of Mentally Ill Man Fears for His Life as He is Missing in India Following Deportation
ICE executes deportation of schizophrenic man on January 22nd, despite his case still being under review, that he is the son, brother and father of U.S. citizens and that his deportation could result in his death.

Washington D.C.  –  January 28, 2009 – The Sachdev family is living a nightmare as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported their family member, Harvey Sachdev, to India on January 22nd. Harvey was a resident of the United States for nearly 40 years, and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Harvey is a son, a brother and a father of U.S. citizens. His case is still open on appeal before the Fourth Circuit court. Nevertheless ICE deported him to India on January 22nd, 2009.

The trauma of Harvey’s prolonged detention and recent deportation made him highly unstable. He is now missing in New Delhi, India, a city of 11 million people. It is an unfamiliar city to him, where he has no family and no access to medication. According to his brother and sisters, “Our brother’s deportation is likely a death sentence for him, and we also fear our mother’s life. The stress and the worry has put her life in peril.”

Having pushed his deportation date back several times, ICE initially notified the family of the scheduled deportation, but failed to confirm it, so necessary arrangements could be made in India. After repeated calls on the day of his deportation, ICE only told the family he was no longer in detention. The family also repeatedly attempted to get confirmation from the India Consulate Offices and Embassy, which had to issue travel documents, but received no information.

Harvey came to the U.S. with his parents at the age of twelve. He was valedictorian of his high school and earned a scholarship to college. Tragically, in his late teens he developed schizophrenia and has battled mental illness for all of his adult life.

Due to his mental illness, he was convicted of inappropriate and aberrant but non-violent crimes. The most serious was indecent exposure, but he was not guilty of any physical contact with any person, nor of any violence. There is no indication that any court thought that the punishment for his crimes should result in deportation to a country that he can’t remember, where he has no friends or family or any connection whatsoever.

His parents and his family are U.S. citizens. Two of his family members are serving in the military, with one completing two tours of duty in Iraq. He married a U.S. citizen and has a U.S. citizen daughter who is now twenty-two years old.

Mr. Sachdev is mentally ill and requires care, which his family is able and willing to provide. He has no one in India and does not have the ability to survive on his own.

Greg Pleasants, JD/MSW, an Equal Justice Works Fellow and Staff Attorney at Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. states that “People with mental and developmental disabilities who are deported can also face a grave risk of harassment and even persecution in their home countries – harassment and persecution based solely on their disabilities.”

“Without family or medical support, deportation can become a death sentence. Suicide and attempted suicide are not uncommon among deported people with mental illnesses. Access to medicine can be limited and people are often deported without any information on their medical background.  Deportation of the mentally ill is cruel and unusual punishment,” says Dimple Rana of Deported Diaspora, an organization working with people deported from the U.S.

For more information, contact:
Neena Sachdev – Harvey Sachdev’s sister, nks29@cox.net
Greg Pleasants, JD/MSW – Equal Justice Works Fellow and Staff Attorney at Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. (213) 389-2077 ext. 19, gpleasants@mhas-la.org
Dimple Rana, Co-Founder and Director, Deported Diaspora, (781) 521-4544, dimple.scorpio@gmail.com

Night of 1,000 Conversations is here!

Tonight, “conversations” (ie. gatherings of people that meet to share stories) are being held in communities across the country. SAALT is excited to be participating in one such conversation being held in Washington, DC. The ultimate goal of A Night of 1,000 Conversations is to get people talking about how government policies affect the everyday lives of Americans. The focus of the conversation tonight (at the All Souls Church, Unitarian near the Columbia Heights metro, for those of you in the DC area) is sharing the experiences of different immigrant communities around policies and issues like backlogs in the citizenship and naturalization process; inhumane detention and deportation procedures; home and workplace raids and more. SAALT is working with All Souls Unitarian Social Justice Ministries, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, CASA de Maryland, Virginia New Majority and Rights Working Group to organize this conversation and we welcome anyone in the Washington, DC area to attend. The event goes from 6:30pm – 9:00pm and begins with iftar/dinner and includes a panel discussion with experts and affected community members followed by small group discussions. One of the featured panelists is journalist Laila Al-Arian, the author of Collateral Damage, who will discuss the detention of her father, Sami Al-Arian. If you would like to attend this event, please join us! The iftar and remarks will begin promptly at 6:30pm.

Map of location

Flyer for Night of 1,000 ConversationsTo learn more about Night of 1,000 Conversations, visit www.nightof1,000conversations.org 

 

. (This website also lists conversations happening in other locations around the country.)