Editor's Note: A recent news report recounted how activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance have placed themselves intentionally in deportation proceedings in order to enter the Broward Transitional Center, an immigration detention facility in Florida. They say they encountered scores of detainees who shouldn't be there under the Obama administration's revised deportation policies. What follows is a first-person account by one of the detainees, Marco Saavedra, a former intern at Sojourners.
I am glad the stories we are finding in this detention center are getting back to you all out there. My name is Marco Saavedra and recently I put myself into deportation proceedings hoping they'd bring me to the Broward Detention Center.
Despite being a DREAMer, the border patrol office I approached looking for a missing friend didn't think twice about detaining me. Little did they know they were doing exactly what we wanted, bringing us to this detention center filled with low-priority detainees.
No one deserves to be locked up like they are inside of this facility.
A few days ago I met Junior, a Jamaican who has lived here for 19 years. In 2001, Junior was the victim of a robbery — he was shot in the back and the bullet is still in his spine. Junior showed me his leg, where he has a blood clot that has gone un-treated, and he told me that I could punch his leg as hard as I want and that he wouldn't feel a thing. . . his leg has gone numb.
Junior is literally dying in here. The doctors refuse to treat him, saying his pain is from “worry.” Yes, they are right, it is worry ... worry that he could die at any second, worry that he will not see his son —who serves in the U.S. Navy — deploy in a few weeks as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans on deporting him this week.
Every person I talk to here is another shining example of why we need President Obama's administration to follow its own rules and immediately release all low-priority detainees.
It costs money to detain Junior here, — on average $166 a day. That's money that could be spent on something other than detaining fathers, mothers, and even DREAMers in a place like this.
What happens to one of us affects all of us.
Will you join me in asking for the Obama administration to immediately review all of the cases inside this facility and to administratively close all of the low-priority cases?
I want to make sure that ICE and the Obama administration knows that, as a community, we will not just go away.
If I am released someone will take my spot.
We will not stop until we can make sure all of these low-priority deportations are stopped.
~ Marco Saavedra (Alien# 200-203-132)
Image: Broward County Transitional Center photo via ImmigrationandDetention.org.