May 6, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Saurav Sarkar, Media Coordinator, 516-423-1896, sauravsarkar2000 AT yahoo DOT com.
FBI, Immigration Officials Ruining Mother’s Day
Groups and Individuals Call For Public Support For Loved Ones of Teenagers
Unlike countless other mothers who will be celebrated and honored this Sunday, one Guinean mother and one Bangladeshi mother will be among hundreds of thousands who face the financial, emotional, and legal struggle to keep their families intact in the face of deportation. These two mothers’ 16-year old daughters have faced unsubstantiated claims of being “suicide bombers.” The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are misusing the immigration system to conduct what are essentially criminal investigations, thereby denying basic due process rights to these two minors like free legal assistance and access to the charges and evidence against them. The government has smeared the reputation of these two daughters—known here as “A.” and “T.” for reasons of safety and privacy—despite that an FBI official told The New York Daily News that, "Nobody here believes they are wanna-be suicide bombers." T. remains imprisoned, and both A. and T. may be forced to leave the U.S., where they have lived since infancy.
Under the leadership of Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Securityis working to ensure that A. and T. are included among the almost 1.5 million immigrants whom the government has forced to leave since 1996—regardless of their family, social, and economic ties to the United States. Additionally, it appears that these two teenagers have been the subject of the same type of discrimination that has targeted so many immigrants on the basis of their religion and national origin since 9/11.. As a result, the mothers of A. and T. have mourned the many weeks their daughters have been in Berks County Prison, hundreds of miles away, where T. continues to be jailed.
Berks has been described as “too institutional and prisonlike” for unaccompanied minors by a U.S. Government official in U.S. News and World Report. “The prison lost its federal contract to care for unaccompanied immigrant minors last year, after newspaper articles and a report by Amnesty International criticized the conditions as too punitive for young asylum-seekers who entered the United States without parents,” according to the New York Times.
T.’s mother, breaking into tears, told the New York Times, "I always thought that this country is better for my children, but now...I just want my daughter. Please, can you help me?" She and her loved ones face an enormous emotional, legal, and financial challenge. She and her husband must raise money for housing, having given up their apartment out of fear of surveillance or other threats to their safety. Food and transportation money and support for their three other children are other necessities. A.’s mother is also struggling to support herself and her other children; her husband has also jailed on immigration charges, and his income is lost. She needs to pay her daughter’s and husband’s legal fees, and there may be a need to purchase plane tickets in the future if either her husband or daughter are forced to accept “voluntary departure.” Collectively, the legal fees, housing, transportation, food, and basic needs of the two families will amount to well over $10,000 over the next few months.
This mother’s day you can help ease the pain and suffering of these two mothers, their daughters, and their families; you can send a tax-exempt donation online at http://detainthis.blogspot.com or mail checks written to:
Emergency Family Fund / CAIR NYc/o 9-11 relief program / Adem Carroll, ICNA166-26 89th AvenueJamaica, NY, 11432
If you would like to direct your contribution to A and T and their families, please write that on the memo of your check. Any excess donations will be used for some of the countless other detainee families facing similar circumstances.
This call for donations is part of efforts by a group of organizations and individuals in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and other areas to bring attention to A. and T.’s situation. Included among these organizations are: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action; Blue Triangle Network; Desis Rising Up & Moving; Families For Freedom; International Socialist Organization; Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA Relief); New Immigrant Community Empowerment; New York Immigration Coalition; Not In Our Name / NYC; and Progressive Bengali Network. For more information on the work of these groups on this campaign and other actions they are undertaking to require accountability from immigration officials and the FBI, please visit http://detainthis.blogspot.com."