from a letter sent to FFI from Franquiz, currently detained at La Palma Correctional Center
I'm Cuban and I'm 38 years old. There's a lot of us Cuban immigrants who are detained in La Palma Correctional Center, an immigration facility. I want you guys to be aware of the situation that's going on here. I've been here through protests, I've seen people try to commit suicide and even kill or harm themselves. What they do is just move people from pod to pod so they can't have evidence or people or witnesses to say what's happening.
ICE has managed to create a system with the judges, where people have to stay in here longer than a year fighting their case and it seems irrelevant to them. Myself, I've been 10 months detained and it's been 3 months since I had my first court day. ICE has not permitted me to get out on parole or bond, even with all the evidence needed. They supposedly say that we have a designated deportation officer but every time we send a request or ask for something different it's always different answers. They never have an accurate answer, it's always different or contradicts the other. It takes sometimes weeks for them to respond or get an answer to come to you, they only come to cells to check and see if the water is working or if the cells are clean. That's the only thing they seem to care about. They always tell me the person who's in charge of my custody is the judge, but when I go to the judge he says that ICE is the one who has custody of my determination. They just keep going back and forth and never have an accurate answer.
I've been here already 6 months detained. The officials from ICE said that the judge might redetermine my case and may end up taking up to 2 years, and not just that, the thing is that the judges in this facility are extremenly racist and it's almost impossible to win our cases, not even with the help of a lawyer. My final court date was supposed to be April 23, since then [the judge] has suspended my court [date] 5 times because of COVID-19. The judges consider us criminals and give us high bonds which are almost impossible to pay - they can be as high as ten thousand dollars. To be honest the treatment that we get is inhuman and stressful to some people.
Everything I'm telling you guys in this letter is to let you guys know what's happening in here is bad and stressful to not just me but everyone in this facility. My color when I arrived was green but after an incident occurred for defending myself on April 6 2020 around 6 am in the morning in the kitchen area where I used to work. 3 people came up to me and attacked me. After that they send me to segregation for 21 days and after that the officer told me that ICE changed my color, but that was a lie, that was a problem from CoreCivic. On August 28 of 2020 they came to check our rooms and checked every single cell. They had to take us to the yard and the officer who checked my room told me if they catch me writing another letter like the one I had I was gonna be taken to segregation. They are always threatening us saying stuff like this if we are complaining about what's happening here. To make things worse they are bringing in new people to this pod that are coming from prison making more drama and bringing in more possibilities of bringing in coronavirus cases.
The facility doesn't really have the right measures necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The staff is not taking the precautions like they are supposed to. They continue to bring new people to this pod in and out. There's more than 2 thousand people in this place and workers that come in and out. The people who work in the kitchen area are more likely to get infected. Another bad thing that's happening in this facility is the lack of nutrition and food that we get every day and it's not healthy for us to consume. The lack of vitamins that we aren't receiving in our everyday meals, and it's the same with our medical attention. We never get the right treatment or the medicine necessary. They only tell us to drink lots of water or take ibuprofen or Tylenol. With all this going on we have been struggling with the need of shampoo, toilet paper, and other necessary hygiene stuff. The people in here don't take much precautions or some even don't shower for days or wash their hands.
From my perspective things aren't getting any better and keeping us all in here together is not the best thing or idea for everyone. The funds that are being used here can be used for things like finding a cure for this coronavirus or help people who have lost their jobs. Being with our families would be so much better and make us feel more safe rather than [being] here suffering and taking the measures necessary to help prevent the spread of the virus. That way the government won't have to worry about the safety of or the deat of people because they are putting our lives in risk instead of letting us [be] free. This is the place where there the facility likes to take advantage of people like us by leaving us in here locked up for long periods of time, so theycan make more money from us. Sadly, it looks like it's a system and business that will never end while you guys keep making money off us. Even though ICE has recognized that the cases of COVID-19 in the detention center have grown, they haven't found the right measures to stop this from spreading and growing. They insist on having us here locked up which is inhuman to us [and] keeping us here they wanna keep running their dirty system under [any] circumstances necessary.
ICE makes excuses that are so ridiculous ... they say that we are dangerous to the community, but the only dangerous people in here are the people that are being brought here for having weapons or drugs or other criminal acts. We Cubans are only here to ask for political asylum for the way our country is and ... the political system and the depression that's been going on for more than 60 years. If only the American people can see every thing that's happening over there, it's pathetic. We don't have the capability to make decisions. It's like having a kid with no experience in charge of our country. That's to show that in Cuba they're not bad people or violent people like you guys think. They only reason you guys have us here is because of the money you guys are making from us. You have us detained here like we don't have feelings or if we're animals. We just ask that you guys have mercy on us and to let us free, to all the immigrants here suffering, not able to see their families or kids. To show the government and help us be free and happy.
Thank you for hearing me out. I hope you guys can understand what I'm trying to say. Please, we need your help before things get worse ... and [we] have no remedy. That's all we're asking for.
Thank you for all the attention and have a wonderful day.