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>

“Failing Families” op-ed in Baltimore Sun

Mont­gomery Coun­ty, MD, where the SAALT offices are locat­ed, is a vibrant com­mu­ni­ty with immi­grants from around the world. This op-ed from Dr. Lavanya Sithanan­dam, a pedi­a­tri­cian and trav­el doc­tor based in Tako­ma Park, shows how immi­gra­tion raids have neg­a­tive­ly impact this com­mu­ni­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly its most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers: chil­dren. Read the excel­lent piece here:

Failing Families

Immigration enforcement policies unfairly hurt many children who are citizens

by Lavanya Sithanan­dam

When I walked into the exam room, I knew some­thing was wrong. My 8‑year old patient, usu­al­ly an extro­vert­ed, charm­ing boy, was angry. He sat with his arms crossed and refused to look at me. His exhaust­ed moth­er recount­ed how one week ago, her hus­band, after arriv­ing home from a 12-hour shift at work, had been arrest­ed in front of his chil­dren and tak­en away in hand­cuffs. He was now sit­ting in an Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) deten­tion cen­ter in Fred­er­ick. The moth­er asked me to eval­u­ate her son for a one-week his­to­ry of poor appetite, dif­fi­cul­ty with sleep­ing, and wheez­ing.

As a pedi­a­tri­cian work­ing in Mont­gomery Coun­ty, home to the largest immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty in Mary­land, I have seen first­hand the dev­as­tat­ing effects that aggres­sive immi­gra­tion enforce­ment poli­cies can have on fam­i­lies. Many of these chil­dren are cit­i­zens, born in the Unit­ed States to at least one undoc­u­ment­ed par­ent. Yet these chil­dren often expe­ri­ence what no U.S. cit­i­zen (or any child, for that mat­ter) should. They live in con­stant fear of aban­don­ment because they have seen and heard of neigh­bors and fam­i­ly mem­bers being picked up and deport­ed with­in days.

My patient, a “cit­i­zen child” him­self, was exhibit­ing symp­toms of depres­sion, and like oth­er chil­dren who have lost a par­ent to deten­tion cen­ters, he per­ceives his father’s arrest as some­how being his fault. His moth­er, who must now take over her hus­band’s 15-year role as the fam­i­ly’s bread­win­ner, is strug­gling to pay the bills, to make the lengthy dri­ve to see her hus­band, and to take her son to the doc­tor. These par­ents are good peo­ple: hard­work­ing and hon­est immi­grants from West Africa who pay their tax­es and take good care of their chil­dren. They strug­gle to make a decent life for their fam­i­ly, despite a gru­el­ing, 70-hour work­week.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, their sto­ry is not unique. There are more than 5 mil­lion cit­i­zen chil­dren in this coun­try — and sad­ly, the like­li­hood that one or both of their par­ents will be deport­ed is increas­ing. In order to meet arrest quo­tas, ICE agents are increas­ing­ly going after “soft tar­gets”: immi­grants such as my patien­t’s father, with no crim­i­nal record and for whom ICE had not issued a depor­ta­tion order. Some of these peo­ple are picked up by chance, at work or at home. Some are vic­tims of “res­i­den­tial raids” where immi­gra­tion author­i­ties knock on door after door with no evi­dence that the inhab­i­tants are undoc­u­ment­ed until they can get some­one to admit that he or she is here ille­gal­ly.

Some­times, racial pro­fil­ing is an issue — as in the case, recent­ly revealed, of a Jan­u­ary 2007 raid on a 7‑Eleven in Bal­ti­more. Offi­cers detained 24 Lati­no men, few of them with crim­i­nal records, in an appar­ent effort to meet a quo­ta for arrests.

The future for fam­i­lies like my 8‑year-old patien­t’s looks grim. My patien­t’s suf­fer­ing will prob­a­bly have no influ­ence on his father’s depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings, giv­en the high legal stan­dards of “extreme hard­ship” that must be met in order for his father to stay with his fam­i­ly. The boy will most like­ly be forced to start a new life in a coun­try he has nev­er even vis­it­ed.

Immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy is com­pli­cat­ed and emo­tion­al­ly charged, but pun­ish­ing cit­i­zen chil­dren should be at the bot­tom of ICE’s pri­or­i­ties. It is time to once again con­sid­er a fair and com­pre­hen­sive approach to immi­gra­tion reform. One promis­ing pro­pos­al is the “Child Cit­i­zen­ship Pro­tec­tion Act” (intro­duced this year by Rep. Jose Ser­ra­no of New York), which would autho­rize an immi­gra­tion judge to pre­vent depor­ta­tion of an immi­grant when it is in the best inter­est of his or her cit­i­zen chil­dren.

It is essen­tial to enact laws that will pro­mote fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion, fair­ness and dig­ni­ty over cur­rent enforce­ment tac­tics that tear fam­i­lies apart.

Dr. Lavanya Sithanan­dam, a pedi­a­tri­cian in Tako­ma Park, immi­grat­ed to this coun­try from India at the age of 4. She is a mem­ber of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a social jus­tice and advo­ca­cy group. Her e‑mail is drsithanandam@gmail.com.

Model Minority? No Thanks!

Asian Amer­i­cans broad­ly and South Asians have long con­front­ed main­stream label­ing as mod­el minori­ties. Here at SAALT, we have a few prob­lems with that. The lat­est exam­ple is a com­men­tary post­ed on Forbes.com by Jason Rich­wine. Check out SAALT’s writ­ten response below (it’s also been post­ed on RaceWire):

Model Minority? No, Thanks!

A Response to Feb­ru­ary 24th  Forbes.com Com­men­tary on Indi­an Amer­i­cans: The New Mod­el Minor­i­ty

Deepa Iyer

In his Feb­ru­ary 24th com­men­tary, Jason Rich­wine presents the “rev­e­la­tion” that Indi­an Amer­i­can immi­grants are the “new mod­el minor­i­ty” (see “Indi­an Amer­i­cans: The New Mod­el Minor­i­ty”).  Using this flawed frame, he then pro­pos­es unwork­able and divi­sive immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy changes.  As a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that works to fos­ter the full civic and polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, we find these char­ac­ter­i­za­tions to be quite trou­bling.

Rich­wine points to the edu­ca­tion­al and income lev­els of many Indi­an Amer­i­cans (as well as their flair for win­ning spelling bees) as signs that this eth­nic group has reached the high­est ech­e­lons of suc­cess.  Such bench­marks belie the truth about the chal­lenges that many Indi­an Amer­i­cans face, and cre­ate a wedge between Indi­an Amer­i­cans and minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties.

In real­i­ty, Indi­an Amer­i­cans, much like oth­er immi­grants, have diverse expe­ri­ences and back­grounds. Indi­an Amer­i­cans are doc­tors, engi­neers and lawyers, as well as small busi­ness own­ers, domes­tic work­ers, taxi dri­vers and con­ve­nience store employ­ees. Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers hold a range of immi­gra­tion sta­tus­es and include nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens and H‑1B visa­hold­ers, guest­work­ers and stu­dents, undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers and green card hold­ers.  Some have access to high­er edu­ca­tion while oth­ers strug­gle to learn Eng­lish in a new coun­try.  As with all com­mu­ni­ties, Indi­an Amer­i­cans do not come in the same shape and form, and can­not be treat­ed as a mono­lith.

Anoth­er dan­ger with the mod­el minor­i­ty label is that it cre­ates divi­sions between Indi­an Amer­i­cans and oth­er immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.  Beneath the seem­ing­ly pos­i­tive use of the “mod­el minor­i­ty” label is a per­ni­cious racist under­tone: the pur­pose, after all, is to com­pare one set of peo­ple with anoth­er, and the result is to pit minori­ties against one anoth­er.

Com­par­ing Indi­an Amer­i­cans with Mex­i­can Amer­i­cans, as Rich­wine does (“In sharp con­trast to Indi­an Amer­i­cans, most U.S. immi­grants, espe­cial­ly Mex­i­can, are much less wealthy and edu­cat­ed than U.S. natives, even after many years in the coun­try) is an exam­ple of the sort of con­struct­ed divi­sion between immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties that cre­ates cul­tur­al and eth­nic hier­ar­chies.   The use of the mod­el minor­i­ty label results in plac­ing Indi­an Amer­i­cans “above” oth­er com­mu­ni­ties based on cer­tain fac­tors such as edu­ca­tion­al apti­tude or work eth­ic — which are clear­ly shared across eth­nic and cul­tur­al lines.  It fur­ther iso­lates Indi­an Amer­i­cans and makes it chal­leng­ing to build sol­i­dar­i­ty that nat­u­ral­ly aris­es among com­mu­ni­ties that share com­mon expe­ri­ences as immi­grants and peo­ple of col­or in Amer­i­ca.

Using the mod­el minor­i­ty myth to inform immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy can lead to unwork­able solu­tions.  Rich­wine writes that “A new immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy that pri­or­i­tizes skills over fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion could bring more suc­cess­ful immi­grants to the U.S.  By empha­siz­ing edu­ca­tion, work expe­ri­ence and IQ in our immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy, immi­grant groups from oth­er nation­al back­grounds could join the list of mod­el minori­ties” – one that seems to be head­ed up by Indi­an Amer­i­cans.

But even for this so-called mod­el minor­i­ty, immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy reform must include fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion (in fact, fam­i­ly mem­bers of green card hold­ers from India have to wait up to 11 years to be reunit­ed with fam­i­ly mem­bers); legal­iza­tion (Indi­ans ranked among the top ten undoc­u­ment­ed pop­u­la­tions in the coun­try in 2008); and pro­grams that enable work­ers – skilled and unskilled – to car­ry out their liveli­hoods with respect and dig­ni­ty.   View­ing immi­grants as com­modi­ties to be used pure­ly for their eco­nom­ic val­ue as a basis for immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy change denies immi­grants the oppor­tu­ni­ties to estab­lish roots, build mean­ing­ful futures, and con­tribute to the diver­si­ty and vibran­cy of our coun­try.

We reject attempts to cre­ate divi­sions, whether they be with­in our own com­mu­ni­ty, or with oth­er com­mu­ni­ties who share sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences, strug­gles, his­to­ries, and val­ues.  We rec­og­nize that our suc­cess and our futures are tied close­ly with that of all immi­grants and peo­ple of col­or.

Deepa Iyer is the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion locat­ed in the Wash­ing­ton DC area. Ms. Iyer is an immi­grant who moved to the Unit­ed States from India when she was twelve years old.

Poverty in the Asian American Community in New York Featuring SAYA!

NewsAs the reces­sion deep­ens and more and more peo­ple around the coun­try find them­selves job­less or stretched thin eco­nom­i­cal­ly, its impor­tant to high­light how dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties are being affect­ed in dif­fer­ent ways. This excel­lent piece from My9 News (New York) reporter Ti Hua Chang. Chang pro­files Asian Amer­i­cans and South Asians liv­ing at or near the pover­ty lev­el in New York. Many work for long hours for low wages and have lit­tle cush­ion as the econ­o­my wors­ens. More­over, few­er Asian Amer­i­cans use gov­ern­ment ser­vices; one of the star­tling facts Chang men­tions is that while Asian Amer­i­cans make up 12% of the city’s pop­u­la­tion, they recieve about 1% of the gov­ern­ment or pri­vate fund­ing. From seniors iso­lat­ed to their apart­ments to the Bangladeshi man work­ing two jobs to build a bet­ter future for his chil­dren, the sto­ries are uni­form­ly heart­break­ing and under­score how these com­mu­ni­ties are suf­fer­ing. The Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of an NCSO part­ner SAYA!, Annet­ta Seecha­ran, speaks to the impor­tance of invest­ing in these com­mu­ni­ties and help­ing them build more secure futures. Check the video out at <http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102477092076&e=001aIe-v1SY2wJtz3gLloLGdx1EKmzkq4MLylD-QY-vhvtPm4PpNI1fizuFNK7DJ9xNvqE7uIqAHfOuwQFZfhlGgbyZXU4mMQErjoOS5BY3c6v1VRiakPRE5d8nicqHS-RMP1dq69Qg8mw=>

Does the Stimulus Bill Impact South Asians?

Nina Baliga, National CAPACD

Nina Bali­ga, Nation­al CAPACD

Check out this blog post from Feb­ru­ary guest­blog­ger, Nina Bali­ga, Devel­op­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ag­er at Nation­al CAPACD. Nina tells us how she thinks the stim­u­lus bill may impact South Asians:

“Know­ing and under­stand­ing the diver­si­ty of our com­mu­ni­ties, it’s hard to say what the final impact of the Amer­i­can Recov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act will have on South Asians across the coun­try.  Per­son­al­ly, I think there are enough stip­u­la­tions in the bill that pro­vide hope for our com­mu­ni­ties.

For exam­ple, $1 bil­lion will go towards the 2010 Cen­sus.   Why does this mat­ter?  Well, the cen­sus pro­vides the back­bone of infor­ma­tion that deter­mines how a lot of pub­lic mon­ey and even pri­vate sec­tor mon­ey is spent.  Part of this $1 bil­lion will be used to increase in-lan­guage part­ner­ships and out­reach efforts to minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties and oth­er “hard-to-reach” pop­u­la­tions.  If more South Asians are count­ed in the 2010 Cen­sus, then there will like­ly be more resources for our com­mu­ni­ties.

We do know that there are some pro­vi­sions that will help low-to-mod­er­ate income indi­vid­u­als, and this will def­i­nite­ly help many South Asian fam­i­lies.  For exam­ple, there is the Make Work Pay refund­able tax cred­it which could give $400 to sin­gle fil­ers and $800 to joint fil­ers in 2009 and 2010.  The bill has also expand­ed Pell grants to a max­i­mum of $5,350 in 2009 and $5,500 in 2010, hope­ful­ly increas­ing access to a col­lege edu­ca­tion to more young adults.  And for those of you who are look­ing to buy their first home, do it in 2009, because you’ll receive up to an $8000 tax cred­it from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

The bill is large and mul­ti-faceted, includ­ing tax cuts for indi­vid­u­als and small busi­ness­es, fund­ing for edu­ca­tion and job train­ing, more mon­ey for trans­porta­tion and health cov­er­age, food assis­tance, fund­ing for states and local gov­ern­ments, and so much more. The final impact on our com­mu­ni­ties is yet to be seen.  We can tru­ly hope for the best dur­ing this eco­nom­ic cri­sis, and pray that this mas­sive injec­tion of cap­i­tal into the country’s econ­o­my will prove worth­while.”

So what do you think? How will this stim­u­lus bill impact the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty? What do you like about the bill and what do you wish it did/did not include?

Nina Bali­ga joined the Nation­al CAPACD staff as the Devel­op­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ag­er in 2007.  Nina devel­ops our com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies, and over­sees our out­reach to mem­bers, fun­ders and oth­er stake­hold­ers. Pri­or to Nation­al CAPACD, Nina worked as a Research Ana­lyst for SEIU Local 11, orga­niz­ing con­do­mini­um work­ers in South Flori­da. In 2004, she worked as the Can­vas Direc­tor of the Mia­mi office of Amer­i­ca Com­ing Togeth­er, where she mobi­lized tens of thou­sands of vot­ers in the largest vot­er con­tact pro­gram in his­to­ry.  She began her polit­i­cal career head­ing up Flori­da PIRG’s Clean Water Cam­paigns.  Nina has served on the Board of Direc­tors of SAAVY (South Asian Amer­i­can Vot­ing Youth) as the Fundrais­ing Chair, and men­tored SAAVY fel­lows at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Flori­da as part of a larg­er South Asian Youth Vot­er mobi­liza­tion movement.Nina grad­u­at­ed from New York Uni­ver­si­ty with degrees in Soci­ol­o­gy and Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies and recent­ly received her Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Flori­da.

The Good and the Bad in the Stimulus Bill

After weeks of intense debate and nego­ti­a­tions, Con­gress passed an eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus pack­age that is head­ed to Pres­i­dent Obama’s desk for his sig­na­ture today. The final law includes spend­ing for domes­tic infra­struc­ture projects, fund­ing to state and local gov­ern­ments, and tax relief in the form of cuts and cred­its. The gov­ern­ment knew that it need­ed to take quick action to pull the econ­o­my out of its down­ward spi­ral, which has affect­ed everyone’s lives – from immi­grants and cit­i­zens, to stu­dents and seniors, to the wealthy and the work­ing-class.

No one can claim to be unscathed by the reces­sion that we are going through, includ­ing H‑1B work­ers. Vast num­bers of South Asians rely upon this visa, includ­ing lawyers, engi­neers, artists, and sci­en­tists. Yet many fear los­ing not only their jobs, but also their immi­gra­tion sta­tus, dur­ing these rough eco­nom­ic times. Take, for instance, Shali­ni, whose sto­ry was cap­tured by Lit­tle India

Shali­ni (name altered), who came to New York City from Mum­bai one year ago to work with Ernst & Young, is cop­ing with just such an even­tu­al­i­ty. With­in a few months she was pro­mot­ed from assis­tant man­ag­er to man­ag­er in her divi­sion. How­ev­er, in Novem­ber, the com­pa­ny let her go. Her first thought was, “How am I going to find anoth­er job in the next six weeks in this kind of envi­ron­ment?”

Shali­ni is on an H1‑B work per­mit, which means that if she does­n’t find work with­in 30 to 60 days, she has to leave the coun­try. Her prospects are bleak. Most com­pa­nies in the U.S., India and across the world have either frozen hir­ing or are sack­ing their work­force. Shali­ni has real­ized that there is no safe­ty net in the U.S. with­out a Green Card or cit­i­zen­ship. So she is fol­low­ing the exam­ple of sev­er­al NRIs [non-res­i­dent Indi­ans], who have applied to non‑U.S. com­pa­nies, sent resumes to con­tacts in cor­po­rate India, put up notices to sell their homes and fur­ni­ture, and post­poned plans to get mar­ried or start a fam­i­ly.”  [Lit­tle India]

These work­ers help build the vibrant inno­va­tion of this coun­try. In fact, Thomas Fried­man had a thought-pro­vok­ing piece in The New York Times recent­ly about how we need more immi­grants, not less, because it’s good for the Amer­i­can econ­o­my …

“We live in a tech­no­log­i­cal age where every study shows that the more knowl­edge you have as a work­er and the more knowl­edge work­ers you have as an econ­o­my, the faster your incomes will rise. There­fore, the cen­ter­piece of our stim­u­lus, the core dri­ving prin­ci­ple, should be to stim­u­late every­thing that makes us smarter and attracts more smart peo­ple to our shores. That is the best way to cre­ate good jobs.” [New York Times]

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Con­gress went the oth­er way on this issue. As part of the stim­u­lus bill, finan­cial insti­tu­tions receiv­ing fund­ing through the Depart­ment of Treasury’s Trou­bled Assets Relief Pro­gram (or TARP) intend­ed to sta­bi­lize the finan­cial mar­kets, must jump through extra hoops before they can hire H‑1B work­ers. Giv­en the immense con­tri­bu­tions of H‑1B work­ers to help Amer­i­ca remain on the cut­ting-edge, it makes you won­der if this is not only bad news for South Asians, but bad news for the econ­o­my.

Bobby Jindal Responding to President Obama’s Address to the Nation

Ennis over at Sepia Mutiny reflects on the RNC pick of Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal to deliv­er the par­ty response to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s Address to the Nation on Feb­ru­ary 24th. With an African Amer­i­can chair and a South Asian star on the rise, will minor­i­ty lead­er­ship become the watch­word at the Grand Old Par­ty? Check out Ennis’s entire post here <http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/005629.html>

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