He was 17 when he came to New York from Hong Kong in 1992 with his parents and younger sister, eyeing the skyline like any newcomer. Fifteen years later, Hiu Lui Ng was a New Yorker: a computer engineer with a job in the Empire State Building, a house in Queens, a wife who is a United States citizen and two American-born sons.
But when Mr. Ng, who had overstayed a visa years earlier, went to immigration headquarters in Manhattan last summer for his final interview for a green card, he was swept into immigration detention and shuttled through jails and detention centers in three New England states.
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.
On Tuesday, with an autopsy by the Rhode Island medical examiner under way, his lawyers demanded a criminal investigation in a letter to federal and state prosecutors in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, and the Department of Homeland Security, which runs the detention system.
Mr. Ng’s death follows a succession of cases that have drawn Congressional scrutiny to complaints of inadequate medical care, human rights violations and a lack of oversight in immigration detention, a rapidly growing network of publicly and privately run jails where the government held more than 300,000 people in the last year while deciding whether to deport them.
Here’s another post from Digby on the same subject with more examples.
As I said, these are not the actions of a civilized nation. 300,000 people being held in “publicly and privately run jails”? The U.S. is now outsourcing our jail system, and you know that their “code of conduct” won’t be very strict at all. I am sure that these places are staffed with people who can’t get jobs elsewhere, who have an ax to grind with “furreiners” taking their jobs, and who like being in positions of power over helpless people where they get to practice their sadistic tendencies on company time.
Keep in mind that the only crime that most of these people have committed is being in this country without papers or overstayed earlier visas, like the very unfortunate Mr. Ng above. I just can’t imagine going in to what he probably thought was his last interview to get a green card, and ending up in shackles and being tossed in jail. Is that truly necessary? What possible danger could a person like this represent? He had been in this country for over 15 years, had a family and a steady job and was trying to do the process in the right way. And he is tossed in jail, no better than a murderer! How can this possibly make sense?
I have a personal stake in this. I don’t talk much about my personal stuff on this blog, as I doubt anyone would be interested. But my wife and I have adopted a 13-year-old girl from overseas. Since the girl’s parents are still alive, there are special rules involved. They don’t just get U.S. citizenship immediately. She has to live with us on a continual basis for two years before we can submit a petition for citizenship. We are legal, as she is here under a student visa. But I am still really worried that something might go wrong. There are some issues of timing at the end of two years. I would love to take her out of this really dumb fundamentalist Christian school she is attending, but I don’t feel I can. That school is the only private school around here will maintain her student visa, and given these stories I am seeing about how out of control our immigration people are these days, we can’t take any chances. I just hope that there won’t be too much damage done when we take her out at the end of the eighth grade.
The right wing of this country gets really upset when anyone criticizes the United States. We “blame America first-ers” are a huge problem in their eyes. They say, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you just leave? We don’t want you here!” I am sorry, but I truly do not recognize this country anymore. I am ashamed of this country. This country is not the one that I came to love and trust while growing up. I know I was being very naïve, but I truly thought that the U.S. demonstrated that different people could live together and thrive. We actually were a moral beacon of the world, when set against the Communist countries, and before that, the Axis powers in the Second World War. We really did strive to be the best. Now, all our corrupt and sadistic tendencies are being laid bare for the rest of the world to see. I am no longer proud of this country. I can only hope that we start to turn things around after the criminals that are the Bush administration leave office. It will take a long time to repair the damage, but maybe we can. If not, then yes, leaving this country is definitely an option. I, for one, do not care to live in a society that demands everyone carry “papers”, like the movie “Casablanca”, and get to toss you in jail or worse if your papers are not in order.