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Port Isabel Detention Center Action Alert: End the Violence Now!

February 12, 2010

Action Alert: Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

U.S. Government Violence targets hunger Strike at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC): Punishment for All who defend human rights/civil liberties

For More Info. Contact: 956.207.2571

Support the Families: Call Congressman Solomon Ortiz and Regional Field Office Director Michael J. Pitts and tell them to investigate and put an end to the violence and intimidation by ICE against Hunger Strikers and other detainees who have been involved in advocating for their civil liberties and human rights through peaceful and passive resistance.

Call: Congressman Solomon Ortiz

Washington, DC office: tel.202-225-7742, fx. 202-226-1134

Rio Grande Valley: 956-541-1242, FX. 956-544-6915

Tell Congressman Ortiz he must keep his promise immigrant families to help resolve this injustice.  His area in South Texas will be counting the immigrant detainees in the Census and will be receiving monies thanks to their mandatory detention.  This makes them his constituents. Violence ensued after his visit to the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) Mon. Feb. 8, 2010 and families report that ICE officers destroyed letters addressed to the Congressman written by detainees that evening. Violence escalated after Vishwanath Ramlakhan a Hunger Striker at the PIDC, publically made a plea for Phyllis Coven, Acting Director of the Office of Detention Policy and Planning, and Regional Field Office Director, Michael J. Pitts to investigate abuse and denial of due process rights at the facility.  Will Congressman Ortiz ignore the pleas of immigrant families who are being abused and fear for their lives at the hands of ICE within the Port Isabel Detention Center?

CALL: Regional Field Office Director Michael J. Pitts

San Antonio Regional Office: tel. 210-231-4505, fx.

Tell Michael J. Pitts to issue immediate orders to end the violence and repression against all who participated in civil disobedience to defend their rights. Over 150 detainees were on hunger strike in protest of inadequate conditions, violation of their rights, and to protest the unjust mandatory detention system.  At least 30 detainees are still on Hunger Strike and being intimidated and fearing for their safety.  You have the power to stop the violence and you have the power to oversee it. Stop the Violence now!

______________________________________________________________

Background:

Repression by ICE began just after the Congressman’s visit to the Port Isabel Detention Center on Feb. 08, 2010, after he promised members of Southwest Workers’ Union that he would look into the crisis.

Repression and violence by ICE escalated after members of Southwest Workers’ Union and Hunger Striker at the Port Isabel Detention Center Vishwanath Ramlakhan, publically made a plea for Phyllis Coven, Acting Director of the Office of Detention Policy and Planning, and Regional Field Office Director, Michael J. Pitts to investigate abuse and denial of due process rights at the facility.

U.S. Government Violence breaks hunger Strike

at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC): Punishment for All

For Immediate Release

Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

Contact: 956.207.2571

Unite to change oppressive policies, end the exploitation,

And end the violence right now.

U.S. Government officials are abusing immigration detainees as well as community members in South Texas. There are numerous federal civil and federal criminal violations that are occurring. These violations affect the free speech, due process, of immigration detainees and the immigration rights community.

There is a proactive hunger strike by immigration detainees, and a family member of one of the detainees, that has been ongoing for some time. This is the third such hunger strike in less than a year. It is up to the immigrant rights community to enlighten the rest of America and the world to shame the U.S. Government into changing policy.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) swarmed housing units at PIDC and assaulted numerous detainees who were hunger striking and/or proactive in speaking against inhumane treatment. Many were moved to other facilities in order to hide the abuses. Divide and conquer tactics were used against detainees. This occurred on Feb. 10, 2010, which was one day after Anayanse Garza of the Southwest Workers’ Union (SWU) and other concerned community members attended an open meeting, including Zoila Molina (mother of Hunger Striker Ronald Molina and who herself was fasting for days), held by Phyllis Coven, Acting Director of the Office of Detention Policy and Planning. The meeting was designated for non-governmental and community-based organizations. However, SWU members and other concerned inhabitants of South Texas were not invited although they had previously requested to speak to Phyllis Coven via a written request to Regional Field Director Michael J. Pitts. Community members searched for the meeting and found it, last minute, at a local hotel. A local news program brought a video camera.  Phyllis Coven did not feel comfortable being on camera. Community members insisted on a transparent meeting. If the meeting was supposed to be open and announced on the internet, there should have been total transparency in what was being discussed.

Hunger striker Vishnawath Ramlakhan A#042-670-378 called Southwest Workers’ Union. Anayanse placed Mr. Ramlakhan on speaker phone and he told the listeners, including ICE Field Office Director, Michael Pitts, that he was a hostage of the U.S. Government.  Phyllis Coven and her colleagues at the meeting decided not to listen to his pleas, turned their backs on the community and left the room.

Human Rights are first and foremost. Stop the abuse against immigration detainees, as well as abuse of community members in South Texas who defend their civil liberties and human rights. According to detainees there are numerous federal civil and federal criminal violations that are occurring. These violations affect the free speech, due process, of immigration detainees and the immigration rights community.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2010 4:09 pm

    It worth to mention one of the worst security guards in PIDS with last name Butchen .

    He is considered one of the most nasty security guards in PIDC.
    He makes everything possible to make you feel as bad as possible. he prevents detainees and their relaitves from meetings, writes detainees up, and calls them names.
    Security Balboa is another good example of worst idiots in PIDS.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/texas/txsdce/1:2010cv00273/820123/

  2. June 30, 2010 7:45 pm

    They put you in a blue unfrom if you havent been convicted in the US. The orange unoform means that you had a misdemenaor and was in jail prior to PIDC. The red uniform they put on detainees who were convicted previously in more seriouis crimes. The colors are similar to those of US prisons. I had a bue uniform. However, you will still have a blue uniform even if you were convicted previously, but in another countries.

    There werent any rivalry among units. There, however, are always some gang gropups in the PIDC. They get created in all units by mostly centro-american hispanic detainees. They all are cowards and they never fight one to one. In my case, they would gather up to 40 people and try to fight. Even then they were cowards to jump on me. The security guards themselves contribut hatred among the detainees and provoke them to fight. In my case one hispanic security guard told loudly to me after i after I complained that it was too loud in the pod after it was 10 pm: “Shut up or they will all beat sheat of you.” then, the stupid centro -american detainees , about 40 people jumped at ones and started seeking fight with me. The other security guards came and I had to move to another pod. Note, that none of the detainees who assualted me was prosecuted, even in spite of my complaints afterwords. How criminals will prosecute another criminals?

    It is imposiible for a person who is trying to get a refugee or asylum status to have a due process there. The ICE officers and security guards will make everything possible to make your life miserable. There are no separate units for people who need to work on their cases and other detainess. I was in the same pod with blue and ornage uniform. If I tried to work on my case, other 70 detaines who are subject to deportation, were continuously bothering me. They know they are about getting deported, so they just walk around you while you work on the tiny round table, they read your documents behind your back, they grab papers from your table and start asking what they are for. It is just crazy. Then, when you get tired of all these monke sees monke does, they want to fight with you. if you want to work on your case in PIDC, you need to ask the administration to place you in a special unit, for people who are puniched to be alone.

    They (PIDC) ruin people lives by disabling them. Then, detainees like me, come out of the PIDC to the soil of the USand become a burden to the citizens, because they cant work anymore they have to be on a public assistance.

  3. Russ permalink
    April 4, 2010 7:15 pm

    I worte to Texas Office of Human Rights a complaint but they returned it saying that they dont have any jurisdiction over the center becuase it is not a part of the department of education. I am sure it is not.

    • Tamar permalink
      June 1, 2010 10:36 pm

      Russ,
      You were recently released from Port Isabel ICE detention center? What is the difference on the colors, I am told that some wear blue, some red, and some green? and is there any rivalry among units such as Charlie one and the others?

  4. Russ permalink
    April 4, 2010 7:14 pm

    To the Office of Civil Rights.
    This is a complaint about abuse, mistreatment and torture in Port Isabel Detention center. If you or your relative had ended up in this absolutely horrible place, i feel very and very sorry you. Because i spent there 10 months of my life to get my asylum status. Security guards and ICE officers will mistreat and abuse you the way they mistreated and abused me. For example: ICE officer H. Benavides told me that he will talk to the Immigration Judge and tell him to deport me back to my country of origin where i was tortured. He also ordered to put shackles on me, (they made sure that shackles sat very tight on my feet, ) and walked me for no reason through the field full of palm size tarantulas back and forth until my feet started bleeding and my white socks became red from blood.

    After about 1 month they again did the same to me when I went to see the doctor, again they put shackles and caused my feet bleeding. (Still have the pictures of them).

    L. Rodriguez, female ICE officer, also constantly refused me my due process, phone calls, copies, and even walks out.

    To make a phone call you need to submit a request and wait it for approval. Sometimes several days, and often you never even get the answer at all. I also noticed that when i submitted requests at the same time with Hispanic detainees, they were approved and I denied.
    Very often, when i submitted requests for anything, requests came back as approved and there was written : “Detainee used the phone”, although it never happened. They do whatever they want and always cover it.

    Another total idiot is a deportation officer Richard Gong, who lied to me all the time saying that my wife told him smth. which wasn’t true at all. Besides all, trying to make me look bad in front of my that time fiancée, he said to my ex-wife: “Why would you want to be with someone like him? Investigation found out that he was dating another women in south America!” I don’t know where did sick person got this information, but I was so upset, that I ended up in emergency room because I was thinking of committing suicide right there. Everybody in the detention center knows that if Richard Gong have your case, you will have to wait forever to get deported. Like that guy from South Africa had to get back from the airplane to South Africa because Richard Gong had forgotten some documents. Why would he care if Americans pay taxes on deportation?

    Field Director Michael Watkins didn’t do anything at all, instead when my ex-wife called him and asked him to stop the mistreatment, he told her that they will not stop doing so until i will start cooperate. And what this “cooperation ” means?
    2It means that i should have stopped submitting complaints to the DHS Office of Inspector General in Washington DC. I had an ear infection for 1 month and i couldn’t sleep because of severe pain. I was asking every single day ICE and securities to take me to the medical facility which was 3 minutes walking distance but i never was taken there. DHS of Washington DC sent there investigation about this fact. I ended up with ruptured ear. They denied me food. Often they gave us only 2-3 minutes to eat. Often they locked me up for several hours or even overnight in cold concrete cells to punish me for my complaints. They called me “Russia” because of my origin. Since i am a citizen of Kazakhstan, They also called me “Borat” after the name of the comedy about crazy acting citizen of Kazakhstan who traveled to America and did silly things. Racists! Most of them are Hispanics who don’t even speak proper English. Now, after i finally got my political asylum i cant work because there i developed eating disorder, anxiety disorder and panic attacks for which there is no cure , constant imbalance of serotonin, as well as eating disorder and post traumatic stress disorder plus sleeping apnea.

    Securities always cuss you out, call you names and otherwise abuse and mistreat you.

    Another security guard who hated me put my dirty shoe on my bad 1 inch from my face, while I was sleeping.

    (I should say that the Psychiatrist PHD Dr. John Golden is an awesome Person who patiently listened to all my complaints and treated me very good). Even prescribed me additional sandwich for my constant hunger in that facility. Also the chaplain, Mr. Ed. Matthews is a super cool Person. I am grateful to the security guard Mr. Juan Escamilla for his efforts to provide me with computer access and making copies. About computer access and law library: Ran by a corrupted recreation officer with last name Villafranco. There were 4 computers in the tiny law library 2 of which didn’t work. Villafranco had 2 detainees working for him. One from Mexico another from Honduras, both ex-convicts in orange uniform who were occupying 2 computers all days long, allegedly to help other detainees to prepare legal forms. In reality, they were making money, by charging those detainees 50-300$ for a petition or immigration form, since most of those detainees didn’t speak or write in English. When on one Wednesday was my turn to go to the law library (i was in blue uniform, “Bravo” unit.), I sat on one available computer to start working on my declaration. However, both detainees-ex-convicts working there for Villafranco started picking up the fight. I told them that it was a day when detainees in blue uniform use the library, however, the recreation officer short and fat Villafranco came to me from the behind and told me to give the computer to the ex-convict detainee in orange uniform, who was previously convicted in the US for forfeiting money. Why would that corrupted Villafranco give him my place and time? Well, perhaps because they shared the money. Everybody talked about it in detention center. Now, instead of being useful to the USA, I am a mentally disabled person who is applying for SSI , that’s what they had done to me. When it comes to mail. The burden of proof of your illegibility for asylum or refugee status or whatever it takes is upon you, respondent. Since you need several copies, one for yourself, one for the Immigration judge, one for the prosecutor and one for the lawyer if you have one you want to make sure that you got them. Especially knowing that in PIDC they almost never make copies. So my ex-wife had sent me a stuck of legal documents which I desperately needed to win my case. When I finally came to the mail room, after spending several hours waiting for my turn in cold concrete waiting room , I had to deal with Ice officer who said that he wont allow me to have my legal paperwork because as he said “it is too much for you to have”. When I tried to explain that I needed to submit copies to the court he didn’t care and instead he locked my up in small waiting room and gave me 7 minutes to take only what I might need the most. He said: ‘ if by the time when he I willl come back you haven’t finished, I wont let you take any paperwork at all! I had to rush through the paperwork, trying to read very fast in English, which is also my second language I learned by myself. It all resulted in choosing different pages from different documents, one from here and one from there, and at the end I couldn’t put them all together. The paperwork had to be sent one more time. The ICE officer through away the rest of the paperwork. He also said that he will screw me up. And all this after my ex-wife had to send this paperwork via expensive FedEx service and pay whole bunch of money for it. My ex-wife has a handicapped child to take care of, who is in the wheel chair and is blind and has a cerebral palsy. She could have bought something to him instead of loosing money on the mail I needed and which I never got.
    3
    One month before my release, the ICE officer by last name Macys physically attacked me and hurt my spine and disabled my arm for the whole week that i had to write with my left hand. Now after i was released, since i have this disorders, i several times ended up in the hospitals in different states and i owe about 7.000$ for Medicare. I cant pay for it. I cant even work. I am not eligible for SSI because i dont have enough working credits in the country. . But this is not what I want, I want to be healthy, and be able work and study. All this horrible experience and my health problems also resulted in my divorce.

  5. April 4, 2010 6:58 pm

    if you or your relative ended up in this absolutely horrable place, i feel very and very sorry you.
    Because i spent there 9 months of my life to get my asylum status. Security guards and ICE officers will mistreat and abuse you the way they mistreated and abused me. For example: ICE officer H. Benavides told me that he will talk to the Immigration Judge and tell him to deport me back to my country of origin where i was tortured. He also ordered to put shackles on me, (they made sure that shackles sit very tight on my feet, ) and walked me through the field full of palm size tarantulas back and forth untill my feet started bleeding and my white socks became red. (Still have the pictures of them).

    L. Rodriguez, female ICE officer, also constantly refused me my due process, phone calls, copies, and even walks out.

    Field Director Michael Watkins didnt do anything at all, instead when my ex-wife called him and asked him to stop torturing me, he told her that they will not stop doing so untill i will start cooperate. And what this “cooperation ” means? It means that i should have stopped submitting complaints to the DHS Office of Inspector General in Washington DC.

    I had an ear infection for 1 month and i couldnt sleep because of severe pain. I was asking every single day ICE and securities to take me to the medical facility which was 3 minutes walking distance but i never was taken there. DHS of Washington DC sent there investigation about this fact.
    I ended up with raptured ear.

    They denied me food. Often they gave us only 2-3 minutes to eat. Often they locked me up for several hours or overnight in cold concrete cells to punish me for my complaints.
    They called me “Russia” because of my origin. Most of them are Hyspanics who don’t even speak proper English.

    Now, after i finally got my political asylum i cant work because i developed eating disorder, ptsd, agorophobia, anxiety disorder and panic attacks for wich there is no cure. Constant imbalance of serotonin. (I should say that the Psychiatrist PHD Dr. John Golden is an awsome Person who patiantly listened to my compliants and treated me very and very good). Even prescribed me additional sandvich for my constant hunger in that facility.
    Also the chaplain, Mr. Ed. Matthews is a super cool Person. I am grateful to the security guard Mr. Juan Escamilla for his efforts to provide me with computer access and making copies.

    About computer access and law library: Ran by a corrupted guy by last name Villafranco.

    There were 4 computers in the tiny law library 2 of wich didnt work. Recreation officer Villafranco had 2 detainees working for him. One from Mexico another from Honduras, both ex-convicts in orange uniform who were occupying 2 computers all days long, allegedly to help other detainees to prepare legal forms. In reality, they were making money, by charging those detainees 50-300$ for a petition or immigration form, since most of those detainees didnt speak or write in english.
    When on one Wednesday was my turn to go to the law library (i was in blue uniform, “Bravo” unit.), I sat on one available computer to start working on my declaration. However, both detainees-exconvicts working there for Villafranco started picking up the fight. I told them that it is a day when detainees in blue uniform use the library, however, the recreation officer short and fat Villafranco came to me from the behind and told me to give the computer to the ex-convict detainee in ornage uniform, who was previously convicted in the US for forfeiting money. Why would that corrupted Villafranco give him my place and time? Well, perhaps because they shared the money.

    Now i regret that i ever came to the USA and applied for bloody asylum. I am mentally disabled with no right for SSI.

  6. February 13, 2010 2:18 am

    Maybe some of us who are citizens and free will have to hold a hunger strike together – ICE wouldn’t be able to break that up . . . If we don’t see some good faith action from the government very soon I think that needs to be done.

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