Note: mission accomplished. Attorney Bardavid reports that habeas corpus motions for the Ibrahims were filed today and the Dallas court has already issued its order for immigration authorities to show cause next week, with a court hearing for Feb. 9. A similar order out of Austin is expected this Friday. “Keep shining the light,” he said via cell phone. Will do.–gm
By Greg Moses
New York attorney Joshua E. Bardavid will file motions in two federal courts today for immediate release of the Ibrahim family. The first, for Salaheddin Ibrahim, who is being held at Haskell, Texas will be filed in Dallas. The second, for Hanan and her four children, who are being held at the T. Don Hutto prison in Taylor, will be filed later today in Austin. Bardavid will be accompanied by his mentor, Theodore Cox.
In the writ of Habeas Corpus, Bardavid and Cox rehearse the general facts of the “stateless” Palestinian family who came to the USA in 2001 on Jordanian travel papers that have since expired, who were denied asylum in 2004, and who maintained open residency at an address on file with immigration authorities.
Without the procedural exercise of a “bag and baggage letter” that would have ordered the family to leave on its own expense, immigration authorities “went to Petitioners’ home without notice” and detained them all, sending the father to Haskell, the mother and four children to Taylor, and the 2-year-old daughter to her uncle’s home.
Attorneys Bardavid and Cox have recently applied on the family’s behalf for travel to Palestine and Israel. The attorneys argue that it is unlikely that the stateless family will be granted rights to return to Palestine; meanwhile, it is unlawful to hold them in prison.
Meanwhile 15-year-old Hamzah is jailed in a cell by himself, while his sisters Rodain and Maryam (14 and 8 years old) bunk together. Mother Hanan, who is pregnant, shares her cell with 5-year-old Faten.
“Upon information and belief, all Petitioners’ have been yelled at and verbally threatened by the guards at T. Don Hutto,” says the writ. “For example, on several occasions, five-year-old Petitioner FATEN was yelled at and threatened with ‘punishment’ for her failure to ‘stand still’ during the population ‘count,’ which is taken four-times per day.”
The two youngest children, Faten and Maryam “sob uncontrollably on a near-daily basis, complain of nightmares, and exhibit symptoms of psychological traumatization.” Yet, “none of the Petitioners have been given access to psychological counseling while incarcerated.”
Some of the more chilling sections of the writ concern the treatment of Hanan:
6.Upon information and belief, Petitioner HANAN has not received the medical treatment appropriate for a woman in her fifth month of pregnancy.
7.Upon information and belief, Petitioner HANAN has been forced to remain standing on numerous occasions, despite complaints that she was tired or in pain.
8.Upon information and belief, on at least one-occasion, Petitioner HANAN was threatened with solitary confinement (and thus, separation with five-year-old Petitioner FATEN) because she complained that she was too tired to participate in the daily 5:30 a.m. showers.
9.Upon information and belief, Petitioner HANAN was not given prenatal vitamins, despite repeated requests, until approximately January 18, 2007.
10.Upon information and belief, there is no obstetrician/gynecologist staffed at T. Don Hutto prison, and thus Petitioner HANAN must be drive approximately two hours away to be examined by a qualified doctor.
11.Upon information and belief, Petitioner HANAN is placed in arm and leg shackles for the duration of her OB/GYN visits.
12.Upon information and belief, the total time for a OB/GYN examination, including travel time is eight hours.
13. Upon information and belief Petitioners HAMZEH, RODAINA, MARYAM, and FATEN have great difficulty during the eight hours they are separated from Petitioner HANAN, and are deeply traumatized by this experience.
14.Upon information and belief, Petitioner HANAN has declined to receive treatment by the OB/GYN due to concerns regarding the impact her absence causes to her minor children.
15.Upon information and belief, Petitioners are not provided with culturally appropriate food (“halal”).
16.Upon information and belief, Petitioners are prohibited by their religion from eating pork, yet some of the meals that are served to them contain pork. As a result, upon information and belief, Petitioners have skipped meals.
Following issues recently pursued by the Texas Civil Rights Project’s demand for seven hours of schooling at Hutto, Bardavid and Cox note that education at the prison is inadequate, and they dismiss corollary claims that the so-called family detention center may be considered something other than prison, quoting a passage from the US Supreme Court 1967 Gault ruling.
The boy is committed to an institution where he may be restrained of liberty for years. It is of no constitutional consequence — and of limited practical meaning — that the institution to which he is committed is called an Industrial School. The fact of the matter is that, however euphemistic the title, a ‘receiving home’ or an ‘industrial school’ for juveniles is an institution of confinement in which the child is incarcerated for a greater or lesser time. His world becomes a building with whitewashed walls, regimented routine and institutional hours. Instead of mother and father and sisters and brothers and friends and classmates, his world is peopled by guards, custodians, [and] state employees….
The section of legal arguments in today’s writ is quite similar to a “request for release” submitted Jan. 24 to the Department of Homeland security. Cox and Bardavid argue that the family’s detention is “arbitrary and capricious,” unconstitutional, and in violation of detention policies that immigration authorities have themselves adopted.
Therefore, argue Cox and Bardavid, the detention of the Ibrahims should be declared “unlawful”and the family should be released “immediately.”