Indefinitely Detained: Raymond’s Story
“[My] Human Rights have been violated and [I] am very sad, depressed and anxious. [I] consider my dignity was unjustly offended, and my dignity and moral [sic] are very important.”
Raymond (not his real name) is yet another individual who has fallen victim to the inhumane immigration system. Raymond speaks three languages: English, Russian and Spanish, holds a dual degree in economics and chemical engineering; enjoys classical music, designing computer programs, cooking and attending church. Raymond speaks of his desire to return to his wife who is in bad health and suffering extreme financial and emotional hardship as a result of her husband’s detention. Raymond also has two daughters in Cuba who rely on him for financial support.
Raymond is a Cuban citizen who has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for over six months in a detention center in Texas. The U.S. and Cuba do not have a repatriation agreement. As a result, Raymond cannot be deported to Cuba and faces indefinite detention. Raymond is fighting for his freedom alone. He joins the vast majority of individuals in detention who are not represented by counsel.
Raymond came to the United States seeking political asylum. After he was fired from his job at a petroleum refinery for his political opinions against the Cuban government, Raymond was no longer able to work in Cuba. Since Raymond’s arrival to the United States, he has cooperated fully with immigration authorities, was granted work authorization, held a job, and paid taxes. However, after Raymond pled guilty to an offense for which he received a sentence of probation, he was placed into deportation proceedings. His criminal defense lawyer never advised him of the immigration consequences that would result from the guilty plea. Raymond explains that he “realizes [he] made mistakes in the past but he has learned from them and he was a good productive member of society and that he can continue to be a productive member of society. He has a healthy support network available that will help him succeed outside of detention.”
Raymond has tried to make the best of his experience despite the toll indefinite detention is having on him. He volunteered in the law library, working to help other individuals who do not have lawyers. He also worked as a “pod cleaner” and was responsible for cleaning one of the dorms in the detention facility. His salary for this work was $1 per day – pay he never received. Raymond also describes mistreatment by guards. During a shakedown, detention guards threw his eyeglasses, breaking the lens, and never replaced them. The guards also threw his high blood pressure medication and he was unable to replace the prescription until four days later. Raymond suffers from Myopia and astigmatism –resulting in severe headaches when he is unable to wear his eyeglasses.
After six months of incarceration, Raymond is pleading for his freedom. His story is an example of the U.S. government’s arbitrary and unnecessary use of detention: Raymond does not pose a flight risk, he has a stable residence, a job to return to, and the unconditional support of his wife and family, yet he faces indefinite detention.
[Raymond’s story is part of DWN’s Story Project]