Immigration detainees are mistreated and humiliated
She was detained in an immigration detention centre in Arizona for seven consecutive months following which she was deported to Haiti last year. It was extremely depressing and humiliating, she said.
Catherine, who lived for twenty-five years in the United States and worked as an accountant, said that if it had not been for her sons, then she might have ended up killing herself. She has two sons, both of whom were granted US citizenship as they were born in the US, and she had a green card that enabled her to work in the country. However, she unintentionally broke the law by filling a wrong tax return for her friend who misinformed her. Her friend left her alone in the situation, following which she was arrested and finally deported.
She left her sons in the US with her sister, who is a citizen of the US, but she lost all her possessions in the US, including her home.
Catherine said from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince that it was extremely unsafe to bring up her children there. She said that her father was an old Haitian regime colonel and therefore, they were forced to leave. She added that she is not safe in the place and has to keep moving from one place to another, but added that there are people who help her.
Catherine said that she was never illegal in the US and worked there all the time with a valid visa. She said that it doesn’t matter if the country does not want her and her family, but at least, they shouldn’t humiliate them.
Like Catherine, there were more than 300,000 people held last year by immigration officials and the mistreatment of these detainees is something human rights campaigners are focusing on, and are forcing the government for an extensive revamp of the immigration system.
A researcher in the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, Meghan Rhoad, said that women in detention explained their violations which are unacceptable, like pregnant detainees are shackled. Meghan said that immigration detention abuses are especially dangerous as this is the incarceration which is growing at the fastest rate in the United States.
The experience of Catherine was not a one-off case, but is very common. She explained the way she and other women had to shower in front of male officers and how the so called nutritious food turned out to be potatoes, bread and pasta.