MAS Freedom (MASF), the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), has initiated an investigation into the July 22, 2008 detainment by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) authorities of Ziyad Busaileh, a 60-year old Palestinian immigrant residing in Raleigh, North Carolina. Busaileh was arrested as he arrived home from a doctor's visit – he is a diabetic and cardiac patient of Carolina Cardiology Consultants, P.A.
MAS Freedom North Carolina Director, Khalilah Sabra, reports that upon arrest, Busaileh was not allowed to retrieve his eye glasses or medications (he is recovering from a recent surgery), was denied the right to make a phone call, strip searched at the detention center and subjected to a rigorous interrogation by ICE authorities. In the absence of counsel, and additionally handicapped by his limited command of the English language (no interpreter was provided), Busaileh felt pressured under the threat of never seeing his family again 'for the next 5-years', into signing a document he could not possibly have fully comprehended.
Since entering the U.S., originally seeking treatment for the life-threatening health condition of a triplet son, Busaileh, who's own health began to deteriorate a few years ago, reported for voluntary registration when the 2002 National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was implemented after 9/11. Subsequent to registration, Busaileh, a tax-paying sandwich shop worker and father of four, checked in periodically by phone to verify his status – being told each time, 'not to worry'.
ICE officials routinely arrest immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, or who have outstanding warrants against them, however, prior to his arrest, Busaiyeh had not violated any U.S. law, and received no prior notice requiring him to surrender to ICE authorities.
Busaileh's detainment is one the latest examples of how immigration officials violate the basic rights of persons whom they arrest. To compound matters, MAS Freedom has learned that on Tuesday, July 29, Busaileh was transferred to the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsen, Alabama – a facility known to provide insufficient medical care, restrict necessary dietary needs, violate detainees rights to legal privilege and attorney-client communication, and for denying detainees the right to make phone calls. Detainees of the facility have also complained of being subjected to three and four day periods each week of 24-hour lockdown – anyone complaining or talking subsequently punished by having their food placed directly onto the floor of their cell.
All persons, regardless of their status deserve humane and just treatment, and yet, Busaileh has been denied the right to receive the prescribed dosage of his life-sustaining diabetes and heart medications, and despite a July 25, 2008 statement provided by his treating physician acknowledging that his condition (ischemic cardiomyopathy) is such that he cannot sustain increased amounts of stress, and further asking that the patient/detainee be released to his home – Busaileh remains at the detention center – his fate and health in certain jeopardy.
Among immigrants, the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, has achieved a notorious reputation. Glenn Fogle, an Atlanta immigration attorney, has made the two-hour drive to the Etowah jail many times to meet with clients. “It’s the worst place I’ve ever been to,” Fogle says of the jail, not far across the Georgia-Alabama border. “To be locked in this tiny cell for twenty-one hours a day is horrendous.”
Allison Neal, staff attorney for the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, collects correspondence from detainees at Etowah. One letter, dated February: “We are kept under a 21-hour lockdown; no access to fresh outside air, or outdoor recreational activities . . . Staffs are very verbal[ly] abusive.” Another letter, dated May: “I previously requested for transfer several months ago, because of lack of outdoor exercise at Etowah, my request was denied because of a contention that Etowah meets the ‘minimum standards.’” Another letter, signed by thirty-two detainees in August, 2004: “The amount of food served us as adults is less than enough for a five-year-old child. The daily servings are beans and cornbread; at times we are served mashed potatoes or rice, but the amount is two tablespoons, or when there is no cornbread, one slice of bread.” Detainees have also complained about the cost of using the phones, about being forced into overcrowded cells, about being placed into segregation, and about inadequate medical care. To protest conditions at the jail, detainees have occasionally gone on hunger strikes.
Abdul remembers being led in handcuffs and leg irons into Etowah his first day there. Guards, he says, taunted the new arrivals, taking bets on who would get deported. Abdul was given the khaki uniform of a detainee and a pair of flip-flops. He was crammed into a cell with three other men. There were three hours of freedom each day—one after breakfast, one after lunch, one after dinner. “How do four men spend twenty-one hours a day in a cell?” Abdul says. “I slept and slept. I looked at pictures of my kids. I read the Bible.”
The federal government pays Etowah County $35.12 a day for each detainee at the jail. The contract was hammered out in 2000, when the feds helped finance an $8 million addition to the jail. The contract doesn’t expire until 2015. Patrick Simms, the Etowah County CEO, believes that Etowah is among the cheapest, if not the cheapest, facility in the country when it comes to housing inmates. Judging by his voice, this isn’t meant as a boast.
“Looking back, I would have advised [county officials] not to get into it,” he says. This year, revenues from the contract have brought in about $300,000 to county coffers. “That’s about one mile of paved road,” Simms says with a rueful chuckle. “The only one who’s making a profit here is the sheriff.”
The sheriff? In fact, a quirk in Alabama state law allows sheriffs to keep any money that is left over in the food budget after inmates are fed. No, not his office. Him. Personally. For instance, $3 of every $35.12 is set aside for meals, Simms says. If the sheriff can feed a detainee for less than that per day, he can pocket the difference. “It’s an incentive for him to go as cheap as possible feeding inmates to maximize profits,” Simms says. And because it’s personal income, the sheriff is not obligated to disclose how much he profits. Interestingly, the sheriff of Etowah County, James Hayes, gets only $1.75 a day from the state to feed his normal criminal population; the extra $1.25 he gets from the feds to feed ICE detainees is, so to speak, icing on the cake. Hayes’s office did not return calls seeking comment.
But according to Abdul, the food for detainees was sometimes worse than the food county inmates got. “The county [inmates] that would come in the unit to fix or replace something were always happy with the food and would talk about pizza and other menus,” Abdul wrote in a letter of complaint. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away. In [Etowah], forget about seeing fruit unless you’re watching a TV or a [corrections officer] eating.” In fact, in the three months Abdul spent at Etowah, he remembers eating one apple—and it was given to him by a guard. Abdul says he lost ten pounds in jail.
Jail conditions for detainees have recently garnered some attention. Last December, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general released a fifty-four-page assessment of five detention facilities (none of them in Georgia or Alabama). Among its findings: Five out of thirty-six detainees on suicide watch weren’t monitored sufficiently; at one facility, eight of nine pest control reports indicated evidence of rats and cockroaches; at another jail, detainees were served undercooked poultry; one detainee was given lockdown for wearing a religious head garment. Other findings included slow response time to detainee complaints, insufficient recreation time, and family visits cut off early. In one facility investigated by DHS, officials found that the property officer had stolen more than $300,000 in personal property from detainees. In a San Diego jail, a female detainee said a guard sexually assaulted her; the guard was fired. Despite the inspector general’s findings, all five facilities had garnered an “acceptable” ranking during ICE’s own inspections.
In July, the General Accounting Office inspected twenty-three detention facilities (again, none in Georgia or Alabama) and found that the phone systems available to detainees often weren’t working properly. At one facility, deputies were armed with Tasers, even though ICE standards prohibit the use of them. The study also pointed out that ICE had never severed a contract with a jail for falling short of meeting standards.
So, lets recap...
A 60-year-old Palestinian cardiac patient who had not violated any U.S. law, and received no prior notice requiring him to surrender to ICE authorities was arrested by ICE and placed in the worse holding facility in the country.
Sorry for the lack of posts but I've been very VERY busy dealing with some legal matters (don't worry YOU KNOW WHO, I'm keeping my mouth shut), putting the finishing touches on the "eliminate the position of City Clerk" website, and tweaking the CSS code.
I have to do a bit of catching up when it comes to posting the latest episodes of Community Forum and Danbury Live. Soon, both of those shows will be a sub-section of this site in order to make it easier to view older shows.
Tonight, Toni Boucher and John Hartwell, contending candidates for state senate in the 26th District, will debate each other on the Danbury-area local access show "Ideas at Work and Beyond" at 9 PM TONIGHT.
The show will be broadcast live online and if you have any questions for the candidates, please place them in the comment section and they'll be read on the air.
I'll add the video feed to this post once the show starts...
(this post will be simulcasted on My Left Nutmeg)
UPDATE: For those who missed the debate, here's the video from last week.
Lets go back to this load of nonsense from Mayor Boughton regarding his ICE ACCESS spin in last week's Weekly article.
Asked if things had calmed down since February, Boughton said there's "no doubt about it. There was a lot of over-the-top hysteria back then. I think when people listened to what we said—both the anti-illegal immigrant people and the immigrant groups—people realized we would not be doing round ups. People got comfortable with the idea [of the program]."
Another person who was quoted in the article was Jean Hislop, one of the many immigrant rights activists in the area who's a critic of ICE ACCESS. I did an interview with Hislop and got her take on Boughton's quote.
Here's part 1 of the interview (UPDATE: audio problem is fixed):
Wait till you hear and see part 2 of the interview...
I was rather puzzled after reading the July 25 article, "Galante lawyer fined $2,000."
According to your article, two local attorneys were fined a hefty $2,000 for making illegal campaign contributions in 2004 to state senator and now 5th Congressional District Republican nominee David Cappiello.
What particularly struck me was the revelation that this isn't the first time Senator Cappiello has received allegedly illegal campaign contributions.
At what point do we as voters stop seeing these instances as honest mistakes and start viewing them as a pattern?
Well, I guess the following information will leave the writer of the letter REALLY puzzled.
Today, known mobster James Galante will finally plead guilty to a stunning array of federal charges. His buddy, Dave Cappiello, who accepted $15,000 in illegally funneled campaign contributions from Galante and thanked him with bottles of wine, has some explaining to do about his ties to known mobster, James Galante.
In addition to federal racketeering and tax fraud charges, Galante was charged with three counts of making illegal contributions to politicians and three counts of corrupt practices under state election law. Cappiello was one of the recipients of Galante's generosity.
"The truth about Dave Cappiello's relationship with James Galante won't get locked up in the prison cell with the convicted mobster," said Carrie James, regional press secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "There's no way to hide the fact that David Cappiello has a close relationship with James Galante. Cappiello bestowed him with honors, took illegal campaign contributions and provided him with gifts in exchange."
What we know of Galante and Cappiello's friendship:
* 2007 -- After a story broke about his PAC receiving Galante money, Cappiello lied about when he donated the money to charity. (Hartford Courant, October 13, 2007) (Associated Press State & Local Wire, October 12, 2007) (FEC.gov)
* 2007 -- Cappiello was Against New Plans to Regulate Refuse Industry. After Galante's indictment, Cappiello opposed proposals for licensing trash haulers. (Danbury News-Times, June 12, 2007)
* 2005 -- Cappiello and DeLuca were two of just three senators to oppose a bill to expand the state's bottle bill by also letting water bottles be redeemed for deposit. A massive lobbying effort then killed the bill in the House, led by Sullivan & LeShane. While they represented the beverage industry, they were also representing Galante companies, and this bill would have hurt his bottom line by reducing municipal reliance upon curbside recycling. Sullivan & LeShane have boasted how they have defeated this expansion of the bottle bill, beginning in 1999. (Connecticut Common Cause, September 27, 2005)
* 2004 -- Cappiello Voted Against Reforming "Evergreen" Contracts. One of the abusive features of Galante's company contracts were "evergreen" clauses, which he used in Connecticut even after such contracts had been outlawed in Westchester and New York City. In 2004, Cappiello voted in Judiciary Committee against SB 399, "An Act Concerning... Automatic Renewal of Consumer Contracts." (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2004/jfr/s/2004SB-00399-R00JUD-JFR.htm) (New York Times, August 12, 2001)
* 2002 -- Cappiello solicited James Galante to contribute $100,000 at a Red Cross Fundraiser that raised $117,000. Cappiello and DeLuca repeatedly worked together in soliciting and honoring Galante; both were members of the "Italian-American Legislative Caucus."
* 2002 -- Cappiello took $15,000 in illegally funneled money from Galante for his State Senate PAC. Cappiello spent $202 at Danbury wine & liquor to thank Galante with "bottles of wine or champagne" (Hartford Courant, October 12, 2007) (Politico.com, November 5, 2007) (Hartford Courant, October 12, 2007)
* 2002 -- Italian American Legialtive Caucus, of which Cappiello is Treasurer, gives Galante its highest award. The ceremony was held in a room off the legislative chambers, just over two years after Galante had served time in Prison for tax evasion. (Danbury News-Times, 3/29/02) (Hartford Courant, 9/19/99)
Campaign spotlight: Local Democrats come out to support the Bethel DTC at annual picnic
Monday, July 28, 2008 Time: 1:43 AM
Area Democrats come out to show support for the Bethel Democratic Town Committee at their annual picnic. Bethel DTC picnic, 07.27.08.
My next stop on my reporting on state campaigns brought me to the annual Bethel Democratic Town Committee picnic.
Democratic leaders from throughout the state, such as Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Controller Nancy Wyman, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, and Stamford Mayor (and most likely candidate for governor) Dan Malloy made their way to the event to show their support the Bethel DTC and the slate of candidates running for office in the area.
The rain held off just long enough for me to talk to some of the candidates running for office (such as 107th State Rep candidate and fellow MLNer David Stevenson and 24th State Senate candidate Duane Perkins) and get their take on the Bethel Democrats and how the local town committee will assist them in their campaigns.
04.25.22 (RADIO): WSHU Latino group call on Connecticut lawmakers to open a Danbury charter school
06.03.22 (OP-ED): KUSHNER: "Career Academy ‘a great deal for Danbury"
On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.
The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.
Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.
Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.