Detainee Dies In US Custody

Posted by | August 14, 2008 11:52 | Filed under: Top Stories

Hiu Lui Ng was a computer engineer who worked in New York’s Empire State Building. He lived in America since 1992, and had a wife and two American-born sons. After going to immigration headquarters in New york last summer to be interviewed for a green card, he was swept up into immigration detention and moved about between jails and detention centers.  He died on Wednesday, August 6, two days after his 34th birthday, after four months of excruciating back pain, during which he could not walk or stand.  His cancer-riddled body had gone undiagnosed and untreated during this time.  The New York Times has the rest of the story:

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.

In federal court affidavits, Mr. Ng’s lawyers contend that when he complained of severe pain that did not respond to analgesics, and grew too weak to walk or even stand to call his family from a detention pay phone, officials accused him of faking his condition. They denied him a wheelchair and refused pleas for an independent medical evaluation.

Instead, the affidavits say, guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., dragged him from his bed on July 30, carried him in shackles to a car, bruising his arms and legs, and drove him two hours to a federal lockup in Hartford, where an immigration officer pressured him to withdraw all pending appeals of his case and accept deportation.

Of course, you have to wonder how it could have gotten to this point.

In 2001, a notice ordering him to appear in immigration court was mistakenly sent to a nonexistent address, records show. When Mr. Ng did not show up at the hearing, the judge ordered him deported. By then, however, he was getting married, and on a separate track, his wife petitioned Citizenship and Immigration Services for a green card for him – a process that took more than five years. Heeding bad legal advice, the couple showed up for his green card interview on July 19, 2007, only to find enforcement agents waiting to arrest Mr. Ng on the old deportation order.

So, Mr. Ng died, not just of cancer, but because of disdain and disgust for immigrants, because of bureaucratic incompetence, because a society that claims a high moral ground and claims to care for the sick, the needy the unfortunate, really doesn’t.  After being warned by authorities that if the came to visit him, he’d be transferred, a warden finally approved a family visit, when he had just hours left to live. His sister, Wendy Zhao, spoke he last words to him:

“Brother, don’t worry, don’t be afraid,” Ms. Zhao said, repeating her last words to him. “They are not going to send you back to the facility again. Brother, you are free now.”

Yes, America finally gave Mr. Ng the freedom for which he longed.   Death will set you free.

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Copyright 2008 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.

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