From a letter sent to FFI by Jidier Saavedra, currently detained at Baker County Detention Center
Immigrants in the United States are being detained and deported at an alarming rate. Not only are they being discriminated against, but they are being racially profiled because they came from another country. ICE officers across America are in search of a hopeless immigrant to fulfill their daily quota. They do not care who they arrest or what families they destroy, as long as their presence and mark is made.
People from all ethnic backgrounds are being held unconstitutionally against their will, and are not given their right to due process, for we are minorities with no voice or choice in this country that declares Freedom for its people. I have been raised to believe that this country is the home of the brave, the land of the free, the land of opportunity and second chances.
I myself am a Cuban descendant, and have been in this country legally for over 38 years. I am 41 years old, and I am the father of two wonderful girls. I have no family in Cuba nor do I know anything about the country, but none of these make a difference. All that matters to ICE is that you are deported, or that you are exhausted to the point of giving up, so that you voluntarily deport yourself.
From the moment that you are picked up you are taken to a remote location, so that the isolation begins to take its toll. Not only are you shackled and handcuffed, but you are photographed and finger printed, as if you are America's Most Wanted. You are taken into a small room where you are given a bologna and a peanut butter sandwich so that the image of home is erased from your mind. While sitting in an unsanitary, concrete, freezing cold room for what seems like eternity, you can do nothing but shiver and pray. You then are given the opportunity to make a brief phone call, and hope that someone answers your cry for help.
You are then transferred to another location hours from where you live, in hopes that nobody knows where you are. When you arrive at your destination you are once again photographed and finger printed, as if the first round was not enough.
When you arrive at your cell you are given a mattress with no pillow so that you cannot sleep or find comfort where you are. Once you finally close your eyes your brain is rattled to the sound of "CHOW." Breakfast comes early, as it is now 5 a.m. The portions are so small that you would not feed them to a small child. You are given 5 minutes to eat before the trays and cups are picked up. Once the ordeal is over, it's time to go back to sleep and try and sleep this horrible nightmare away. When you wake up in the morning and attempt to use the phone, you realize that this nightmare is far from over. The operator allows you to make a call, at a rate of $1.00 a minute, so that your family too can feel the pain. When your family puts money on the phone system to allow your calls, you are once again transferred to another location.
When you arrive at your new location, again the process begins. You realize that you have been strategically placed like a game of chess. Every time that you are moved you have less options and the security increases as well. Here at Baker County Detention Center you never go outside or get to see the sun. You are housed in a concrete dungeon with walls 25 feet tall that have no view of the world. Once you are settled and attempt to make a call, again you are given an option to set up a payment plan at $1.00 a minute. The other funds that were deposited have been lost in hopes that you and your family give up. When the food arrives it is cold and again the portions are small.
A simple ramen noodle soupe costs 81 cents and with no other options you pay their price. When you have a problem you are ignored as if you do not exist. You cannot even cut your nails, as the "clippers have been misplaced." You try to get some answers and they lie right to your face.
Then someone tells you how this works. You must wait 30 days before you even see an immigration judge. Here you can deport yourself and remain in custody for 90 days more. If they wish they can ask for an additional 90 day extension. You can ask for a bond and fight from the outside, but if you have a drug conviction like me or an aggravated offense you are automatically denied. You can choose to appeal the judge's decision. This will prolong your stay another 4 months before you see the judge. Ninety-nine percent of the time he rules to deport you anyway. Once again you can appeal for an additional 4 months. It all depends on how much torture you are willing to withstand.
So I ask you this.
Do you throw in the towel early? Do you appeal once or twice? Or do you continue fighting for freedom?
I authorize this article to be published so that the people of the United States know what is going on with the immigrants in this country.