Three stories of our immigrants who were imprisoned in the USA for illegal immigrants
President Donald Trump, as promised during the election campaign, launched a large-scale fight against illegal immigration. In the US, according to the publication The Washington Post, now there are about 11 million illegal immigrants. Anyone can go to jail: if earlier only illegal immigrants who committed a crime were arrested, now - everyone who is in the states without documents... And even those who have applied for political asylum and have a legal status in the country.
ForumDaily talked to our immigrants who ended up in an immigration prison, and also figured out how the places of detention are arranged and why every illegal person needs to know about his rights.
In jail with legal status
Russian Denis Davydov fled to the United States from Moscow in September 2014. At home, the young man openly declared his unconventional orientation. After a frank confession Davydov began to insult at work, and then unknown young people began to threaten to kill. To save his life, the Muscovite was forced to leave Russia.
Davydov flew to America on a tourist visa. Through 2 a month after it ended, he applied for political asylum. By law, the application must be sent within a year from the date of arrival in the United States. As soon as Denis received a formal work permit, he got a job as a barista in one of the restaurants in the California city of San Jose.
In March of this, Denis decided to rest on the US Virgin Islands. Going on a trip, the young man took with him only a state of California ID. It was easy to leave the country, but the road home was delayed for an indefinite time.
On March 13, Davydov arrived at St. Thomas airport. It is located on the American side of the Virgin Islands. At passport control Denis showed his ID. However, the officers asked for additional documents proving the identity of the passenger. The tourist did not have a letter of asylum from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service at hand. To clarify all the circumstances of the case, the customs officials decided to send Denis to an immigration prison. A close friend of Denis, Sergei Piskunov, told ForumDaily about this.
“The main accusation now is that Denis violated the visa regime. His tour visa ended six months after his stay. But the law is on his side. Anyone who applies for asylum in the United States can do so within a year. Denis met these deadlines, and we believe that he was arrested illegally, ”says Sergei.
Denis Davydov is in an immigration prison for almost a month and a half Krome Service Processing Centerwhich is located in florida. According to his friend Sergey, the story of detention has had a strong effect on the health of the young man. Denis is infected with HIV, so he needs special care in prison.
“He has problems with immunity now, and he cannot get a doctor's consultation for a long time! There is only a nurse in the prison. At first there were days off, and the administration said that no one was working. But he is still waiting for a specialized doctor, ”Sergey shared.
The best lawyers of the famous American organization joined the case of Denis Davydov Immigration Equalitywhich provides legal services to LGBT representatives from different countries. Several court hearings in the Davydov case have already been postponed. The next process is scheduled for May 8. The question of the deportation of Denis will now be decided by the court.
Immigration lawyer Ilona Dzhamgarova explains: leaving for the territory of the US Virgin Islands, Denis should have received a special document that would allow him to return to the country.
“To enter the United States, you must present one of the following documents: a US passport, a green card, a valid visa issued by a US consulate abroad, or a passport of a country of a visa-free agreement participant, or a special US entry permit issued by the US Immigration Service after submitting the appropriate statements - advance parole”, - explained the lawyer Ilona Dzhamgarova.
According to the lawyer, they can also arrest at the border if the immigrant has a criminal conviction. That in some cases involves the mandatory detention and detention of a foreigner until the end of the trial in the immigration court, explained Dzhamgarova.
How illegal immigrants test their fate
In the course of a large-scale fight against illegal immigration in the United States, they catch, first of all, those who, being in the country without documents, have committed a crime. Visa violators are in second place among the most wanted.
Mykola Kovalenko from Kiev (name and surname have been changed) is just one of them. Three years ago, he had to sit in an immigration prison, and hearings in his case are still ongoing. In 2013, he received a J1 visa for the popular student program Work and Travelwhich helps young people learn English overseas and earn some money. Nicholas all his life wanted to see sunny Miami. Arriving in Florida, he got a job at the beach. The tale did not last long. After the 3 month, Kovalenko’s visa is over. But he decided not to leave America.
“There was no Maidan at that time. But it was still hard to live there. Then I came to America and started making $ 500 a week. For that kind of money, I would have to work in Ukraine for a month. Everything is fine here ... Beauty. The impressions were dizzying, and I decided to stay, because I thought that later I would not get here. It was my only chance, let's say, ”he says.
Nikolai realizes that he has violated US law. But he was afraid that he would no longer be given a tourist visa in the USA, and thoughts about the American dream did not allow him to go back.
“Mom is constantly calling home via Skype. And dad, when he last hugged me at the airport, said that he had the feeling as if he was seeing me for the last time. Six months later, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and he died ... ”, - says Kolya.
The guy could not say goodbye to his father. If he left America, he would most likely never be able to come to the United States. In July 2014, a young man was arrested. At that time, he and his friends rented an apartment in Miami. Immigration officers arrived at his home early in the morning.
“I opened the door for them. He slept on the move and allowed them to go home, but he could not. I should have sent them. Five officers in bulletproof vests and with guns came in. I called the guy for whom the apartment was registered, ”Kovalenko recalls.
As it turned out, the officers were looking for a young man for whom the tenancy agreement was signed. Nikolay asked one of the agents why he was wanted.
“He just said that you can never lie to the US authorities when you ask for asylum, they say, this is a federal crime. I didn't say anything else, ”says Kolya.
Details of the special operation Kovalenko still remembers. According to him, one of the Spanish-speaking officers behaved aggressively and constantly demanded to be silent.
“He said that we are all immigrants and specially came to the United States to stay. Then I saw that some of the guys had applied for asylum on the LGBT line. And he asked: "So you still arrange orgies here?" We just sat quietly and didn’t say anything to him, ”Nikolai recalls.
The officers took up the documents. Kovalenko did not deny anything and told the verifier that he had been in the United States without documents for a year.
“I just happened to be at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Even the day before my arrest, my friends suggested that I go to visit them for the night, but I refused. If I had gone, I could have avoided all this, ”he regrets.
After the arrest, Nikolai was taken to a special unit. There, his identity was checked in the database. The guy said that he does not have the right to work in the United States, but lives on money that his relatives send from Ukraine. The interrogation did not last long. As a result, Kovalenko was sent to an immigration prison. Homestead Detention Сenterwhich is not far from Miami. This Center is divided into several blocks similar to the barracks. From the first day, the Ukrainian student decided to keep a personal diary and record everything that happened in prison.
From the diary of Nikolai Kovalekno (stylistics and spelling preserved)
“I was searched. Then we were taken to the reception of personal belongings, where each was given personal cells. I put all my clothes there. Then they took us to the shower, gave us new clothes and said that we needed to take a shower. I told the officer that I washed myself before and that I smell good. And he said that while we are here, we will do what he says. It was a very cold shower, as in the films they show ... After 10 seconds I jumped out of there with a bullet, began to coward ... “.
“I asked twice about the size of shoes and T-shirt. They didn't have my size. Either more or less. I wear a medium. But they gave XL. They gave me 4 pairs of white socks. Two blue shirts, 4 blue large T-shirts, 2 pairs of blue pants, sheet and blanket, shower set, shower gel, body lotion, toothpaste. Everything is disposable except for soap. And they gave out sneakers with Velcro, without laces, because they can strangle someone ... "
It turned out that the color of the form in the prison mattered. So, blue clothes relied immigrants who violated the visa regime. Orange jumpsuits betrayed those who committed petty crimes, but people suspected of particularly serious acts were dressed in red clothes.
Nikolai says that everyone in prison had to undergo a medical examination. Doctors are required to learn about chronic prisoner diseases. Behind the bars, each is given a special bracelet with a photo and personal information of the detainee. In addition to the name and surname on the bracelet put an individual number, date of birth and date of arrest. It also has a bar code with which the prisoner can buy something at a local store located on the premises of the correctional facility.
“If you had money when you were arrested, they put your savings into an account that is tied to this bracelet. In the stall, you could buy chocolates or some personal hygiene items. But, unfortunately, I had no money, ”he says.
Every prisoner has the right to call. The first 2 minutes are provided free of charge, but then you will have to pay for the connection. Nikolai did not immediately remember his friend's mobile phone number. The first attempt failed, - the acquaintance for some reason did not answer, and the guy no longer had money for the second. I had to seek help from my cellmates.
“I had to ask them. I only got through on the 10th day. Because you need to persuade a stranger, you need to go to the machine. He must speak in his own voice and also dial his personal code. It's not very pleasant to bully people every time, ”he recalls.
Nicholas was placed in a cell where more than 40 people lived. In the mornings, to get into the shower, it was necessary to stand in a huge queue.
“Everything in the room was very unpleasant. When I entered, I did not see white people. Someone was snoring. I thought, God, where did I go, ”the guy recalls his first impressions.
Nikolai Kovalenko says that every day in prison was the same. Wake up at 6 am, then breakfast, which you could sleep through. Then free time and a walk. Lunch at about 16 pm. Then another walk, then dinner and fresh air again.
“In the dining room we had a metal tray, a plastic spoon and fork. At the exit from the dining room, only 5-6 people are released. At the exit, the officers stand and they search you so that you cannot carry anything with you. The food was monotonous. Even then I thought that I would eat in freedom, ”the former prisoner shares his memories.
In the immigration prison Homestead Detention Сenter You can play sports or visit the library. And for prisoners there are always vacancies. You can get an assistant in the kitchen or a cleaner. Full-time prison residents receive $ 2. Earned money is mainly spent on telephone conversations with lawyers. Without their help, it is difficult to get out of prison. Nicholas found a lawyer helped friends. After about 2, the young man was summoned to a court hearing, which was held right inside the prison.
“My lawyer, unfortunately, was late for the meeting. I had to tell my story myself. The court agreed to release me on bail of $ 1500. The lawyer asked for 500 for her services, ”says Kolya.
At the end of July 2014, he was released. With a lawyer, Kovalenko signed a contract, under the terms of which a guy can repay a debt for legal services in parts during the year. After his release, Kohl decided to change everything in his life and move from Miami to Los Angeles. In California, he changed his mobile number and changed his email address. The lawyer found Nicholas on social networks and said that he had missed 2 court sessions. The next deportation hearing for Kovalenko is scheduled for September. However, the young man is still not sure whether he wants to participate in the process.
“I have no money. I am morally determined to go home. If I am deported, they will do me a favor. The only scary thing is to go to jail again. And how long the whole process will take is unclear, now all courts and prisons are overcrowded. For myself, I realized one thing - the American dream does not come true for everyone, ”says Nikolai.
In order not to be in the place of Nikolai Kovalenko, lawyer Ilona Dzhamgarova advises to think in advance about the change of status.
“The main challenge for J1 visa holders is the timely consultation with a lawyer. It is advisable to do this upon arrival. Since, due to lack of information, such students may lose their status even before the end of their legal stay. And this, in turn, may lead to arrest or deprivation of the opportunity to change the status in the United States, ”the lawyer warns.
Not a prison, but a sanatorium
Spouses Alexander and Elena Lazurenko (last name changed) in November 2015-th fled from Moldova. In Chisinau, a criminal case was brought against Alexander, accusing him of having links with the opposition.
“I was strongly oppressed in my country, and I had to urgently save my life and the life of my wife,” says Alexander.
The couple decided to take a chance and learned how to illegally enter the territory of the States. First spouse Lazurenko flew to the British Virgin Islands. Locals suggested where you can rent a boat to get to the American side of the islands.
“There, on the pier, I took the contacts of a young man who is engaged in this business - transports illegal immigrants on an inflatable boat,” says Alexander.
Late in the evening, Sasha and his wife rented a boat, paying for a “ticket” in the US $ 2000. The road to America took only a few minutes. Then they took a taxi to the airport, where they found a customs officer and stated that they needed protection.
“We were taken to a separate room. There, the officer was poking around at the computer for a long time. He asked the only question: "Are you afraid to return home?" I answered yes. He said that there was no need to explain anything else, he hands us over to the next instance, ”says Alexander.
Regular flight "Charlotte-Amelie - Miami" brought the Lazurenko family to Florida. No handcuffs or guards. At Miami International Airport, the young couple were greeted by immigration officers, put in a car and taken to jail Broward Transitional Center... BTC is a private correctional facility with over half a million inmates. The prison has 2 sections - for men and for women.
“On this day we were separated from Elena. Of course, it was difficult, because no one from the staff said anything about our fate. I had to find out from the “old men” who were in prison. I met guys from Ukraine and Romania there. And the Ukrainian said that an interview was waiting for me, ”Lazurenko recalls.
Alexander was given an orange uniform and a pass - a special card with personal information. According to the prisoner, the prison staff treated him with understanding. And the conditions of detention were more like a sanatorium.
“We were treated like patients! (laughs - Auth.) The room was with a separate shower, with a separate toilet. There was a lot of plasma, everything was as expected. And there were 3 bunk beds, ”Sasha says.
In prison, Alexander did not have to be bored. In his spare time, he read books in the library, and after lunch he played football. The main thing is not to break the regime.
“We were fed 3 times a day. The only thing that had to be done was to clean the room. We did it in turn. There have never been conflicts with inmates. We communicated more with gestures, as they did not know English. Children from Mexico, Guatemala, Tahiti, Albania and China lived with me, ”says Alexander.
The women's section of the prison was not much different from the men's. Elena Lazurenko says that the women who were in her cell always helped her.
“I cried, probably for 5 days. It's still a shock. Only on the fifth day we met with Sasha. The boss needed to prove that we were married. For this, a copy of the marriage certificate was needed, ”Lena recalls.
Even at the airport in Miami, Alexander managed to call his friends and reported on the arrest. Friends quickly found a lawyer who sent a marriage certificate to the prison authorities.
“On Sundays, priests came to the prison. On the same day, general walks were allowed, when both men and women were released into the common territory. I saw Elena, but it was strictly forbidden to approach her. I had to show with gestures that everything is fine with me, ”says Sasha.
About a week later, the prison governor gave permission for regular visits.
“Once a day we met with Lena. For an hour. By the way, I could always call my relatives. Calls are cheap. The conversation was supposed to be no more than 5 minutes, and for this they charged about a dollar from my account, ”he says.
In prison, Alexander even learned to play chess. Despite the friendly atmosphere in the correctional institution, Sasha dreamed of only one thing - to be released. Now he remembers with a smile the prisoner's weekdays.
“The food was decent. Nothing fried. Lots of beans and lots of rice. The meat was - sometimes sausage, then chicken. By the way, it was impossible to buy alcohol or cigarettes in the shop that was on the territory. Smoking is prohibited on the territory of the prison, ”says a resident of Moldova.
About a month after being in prison, Elena Lazurenko was assigned the first interview in which the woman told why their family was afraid to return to their homeland. The answer was waiting for another month. The officer believed the story of a woman. However, according to Alexander, the prison staff deliberately delayed the time.
“This is a private prison, and they keep people as long as possible. I heard from the guys that the state pays $ 260 a day for the maintenance of one prisoner. This is a business: the more I am there, the more money they can earn from me, ”he said.
While the Lazurenko couple were in prison, the family immigration lawyer Vladislav Salaridze collected the necessary evidence for their case. He did his best to let the young couple out.
“At the meeting, the judge decides whether to release the prisoner or not. If so, what kind of bail. The judge appointed $ 10 thousand for two of this family. The amount depends on how strong the case is. Usually they ask for a minimum of $ 15 thousand per person. But the more documents and evidence in the case, the better. The judge will see that, most likely, this person will apply for political asylum, so it is very important to collect a good case and provide the correct story, ”the lawyer commented.
According to Salaridze, the new instructions of President Donald Trump have changed the work of the inspection services. Previously, any person who illegally crossed the border and remained in the country illegally could count on remaining by court decision, now officers themselves can expel an illegal alien without a court sentence. This is especially true of border areas.
Therefore, the Lazurenko family can be said to be lucky. Alexander and Elena have already received a work permit and are fully prepared for the trial, which will take place only in 2019 year.
"I do not regret anything. It's good that it happened. After all, my original plan was to get to the United States and immediately ask for refugee. But I would have entered America illegally. They would shut me down right away. We were lucky that we ended up in this particular prison-sanatorium. So, thank God! ”, Alexander said in an interview.
What threatens the illegal and why it is important to know your rights
According to the edition The Washington Post, the number of arrests of illegal immigrants in the first months of Trump’s presidency increased by 32,6%. According to statistics, in January-March 2017, 21 362 illegal immigrants with a criminal record were arrested in the United States. This is 30% more than the same period last year. The number of arrests of law-abiding illegals has also increased.
Illegal immigrants are now under the scrutiny of the testing services, says one of the best Russian-speaking lawyers in New York - Ilona Dzhamgarova. Illegals can be detained and kept for a long time in a deportation isolation ward. In addition, even if the court makes a decision and the illegal is left in the country, it will be more difficult for him to obtain a residence permit in the future.
There is another problem. Some foreigners do not pay attention to the duration of their stay in the country and leave the United States a few days after the allotted time. In the future this can lead to big problems.
"For example, if the period of illegal stay is more than 180 days, a sanction may be applied to the offender in the form of a ban on subsequent entry for 3 years, in case of illegal stay for more than a year, you will not be able to come to America in the next 10 years." , - says Ilona Dzhamgarova.
Illegal immigrants should always remember that only a professional lawyer can help them. Therefore, Dzhamgarova advises the first thing to call a lawyer.
“And it needs to be done quickly. Depending on the situation, the lawyer will inform the detainee about the possible means of defense, ”advises Ilona Dzhamgarova.
In addition, illegal immigrants always need know your rights, but ideally, do not fall into the category of illegal immigrants at all.
After the release of this material, the editors of ForumDaily learned that the arrested Denis Davydov released... According to Denis's close friend, Sergei Piskunov, Davydov was released on April 27.
“This became possible thanks to the support of the media and the administration of the leader of the minority faction in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The case has not been closed yet, but the fact that Denis is no longer in prison is a great victory, ”Sergei Piskunov told our journalist.
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