Monday, February 4, 2013

This Is What Solitary Confinement Looks Like

A few weeks ago Esteban Tiznado sent me these drawings of what lockdown looks like from his perspective.  (If you click on them you'll see larger versions.)

The government's unconscionable treatment has been documented in previous blogs, including how Esteban ended up in the segregated units and 24/7 lockdown because he objected when a guard spit in his face.  I have since realized in the course of reading other complaints from U.S. residents locked up in deportation jails that this practice is not isolated to Pinal County Jail wing rented out to ICE and that guards across the country use their words to add injury to insult.

Esteban's case was pulled from the docket of Sylvia Arellano in Florence and assigned an October, 2012 televideo hearing before adjudicator Quynh Vu Bain in the EOIR Falls Church headquarters; no explanation was provided.  However, based on the experiences of Stephanie (Dae) Cho and her husband Edward Bloodworth in Atlanta, Georgia -- when Cho's case was pulled form Cassidy's docket after Bloodworth filed a lawsuit against Cassidy and EOIR adjudicator J. Dan Pelletier was assigned the case and quickly awarded her a green card -- it is clear that the EOIR hand picks adjudicators, something that would never happen in a real federal court system.  

Informally the EOIR admits that it tries to assign "complex" cases to "more experienced" IJs but Cassidy has lots of experience deporting people and when "more experience" means adjudication before a career prosecutor, this deprives respondents to their right to a neutral adjudicator and is a clear due process violation.

In Esteban's case, the EOIR picked someone whose entire career is devoted to defending the government.  Below is the text from the EOIR announcement of her appointment in 2008:
Judge Bain was appointed as an immigration judge in March 2008. She received a bachelor of arts degree in 1988 from Dickinson College and a juris doctorate in 1991 from the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University. From 2006 to 2008 and 1996 to 2001, Judge Bain served as senior litigation counsel and an appellate lawyer in the Department of Justice, Civil Division, Office of Immigration Litigation. From July 2003 to September 2006, she worked as a trial attorney in the Civil Division, Torts Branch, Environmental Torts Section. From 2001 to 2003, Judge Bain was detailed to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General where she served as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. From 1991 to 1996, she was a trial attorney with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), entering on duty through the Attorney General’s Honors Program in 1991. From 2000 to 2006, Judge Bain also served as an adjunct professor at American University, Washington College of Law, where she taught two courses in asylum and immigration law. She is a member of the Pennsylvania and New York State bars.
Another irregularity is that right now the EOIR has Esteban scheduled for a hearing on Feburary 6, except that Bain made it clear to the attorneys that she would not be scheduling further hearings and would on the basis of their written and oral motions provide her decision in mid-February.

The fake hearing date is a symptom of a larger problem to be addressed in the next post in which I will be releasing a FOIA response with the data the EOIR is using to track how long it is taking detained respondents to have hearings.

For a very good article on Esteban's case, please read Tim Vanderpool's article in the Tucson Weekly.

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