Report Condemns Treatment of Immigrant Detainee

This past August, I posted on the story of an immigrant detained for overstaying a visa, who then died in custody after suffering neglect and abuse at the hands of detention facility employees. Yesterday, Nina Bernstein of the NY Times reported on the investigation into this case.

The federal investigation began last summer, soon after The New York Times reported on the death of Mr. Ng, 34. His extensive cancer and fractured spine had gone undiagnosed, despite his pleas for help, until shortly before he died in custody on Aug. 6.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said the investigation showed that supervisors at the Wyatt detention center had in effect prevented Mr. Ng from meeting with his lawyer by refusing him the use of a wheelchair when he was too ill and in too much pain to walk.

The 33-page investigation report also found that the guards and medical staff, acting on orders of the warden, violated the jail’s policy on the use of force when Mr. Ng was dragged to a van for a trip to Hartford, where his lawyers say he was pressured to withdraw all his appeals and accept deportation.


The treatment of Mr. Ng was absolutely appalling - to merely call it an injustice is an understatement. But, we must also remember that his detention itself was hardly warranted. Like  many others, he was a victim of the convoluted and broken immigration system.

Mr. Ng, who had no criminal record, overstayed a visa years ago and had been applying for a green card through his wife, a United States citizen, when he was taken into detention in July 2007 and shuttled through jails and detention centers in three New England states.

Not only was Mr. Ng attempting to gain citizenship through the proper procedures, but he was married to an American citizen. If our system can fail Mr. Ng so egregiously, shouldn't there be a change? Stories like this add to groundswell of voices calling for Just and Humane Immigration Reform in the new administration. We have a responsibility to create a system that works for everyone, for Mr. Ng, and for so many others who have been victims of failed policies.