DHS Keeps Kosovar at Haskell Prison, Threatens Deportation

Attorney wants to know how the agents knew that his client was in court-ordered mediation

by Greg Moses

An asylum seeker from Kosovo has been taken to Haskell Prison where federal officials continue efforts to deport him despite a pending civil suit that might contribute to his winning legal residency in the USA. Bujar Osmani was arrested Tuesday morning at an attorney’s office while he was attempting to mediate a scheduled lawsuit against two people who represented him in his failed asylum claim.

Mr. Osmani says that he fled Kosovo in 2004 after a family home was set fire during an ethnic riot. He entered the USA through Mexico and applied for asylum in Dallas. (See more background in a story below).

Mr. Osmani is suing two people who he says took thousands of dollars to represent him, but who instead, he alleges, defrauded him of his cash and his opportunity to win asylum.

If the pending court case is successful, Mr. Osmani would be able to demonstrate that he was a victim of fraud by the persons who purported to represent him. But federal officials this week have said that Mr. Osmani can pursue his legal rights by sending depositions from Kosovo instead of appearing in court in his own behalf.

Meanwhile, Mr. Osmani’s attorney questions the manner and motivation of the arrest.

“When they arrested Bujar, they did not even let him tell his attorney or the mediator that he was leaving,” wrote attorney John Wheat Gibson in an email to federal officials, copied to the Texas Civil Rights Review. ” We found out after he had been missing for half an hour and we could not find him.”

“A secretary told us she had seen two men take him away. The arresting officers did not allow Bujar to make any arrangements for his car, which is still in the mediator’s parking lot, if it has not been towed. The interpreter and I had to make special arrangements to get back to our offices.”

“I do not understand why BICE (Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents would go out of their way to protect [the defendants in Mr. Osmani’s lawsuit] . . .,” said Gibson. “I would be very interested to know who made the decision to . . . arrest Bujar at the time and place and in the manner in which he was arrested.”

Attorney Gibson says his client is willing to accept any terms of supervision that the Department of Homeland Security may offer in order to continue his civil appeals.

Meanwhile, Haskell prison remains a 3 1/2 hour drive from Dallas, meaning that any lawyer-client conference will cost a day’s time.

“Unfortunately, the expense of taking Bujar’s deposition at the prison is prohibitive,” says Gibson, “especially because he cannot speak English.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante complained in a recent report that immigrants in the USA are “often transferred to remote detention facilities, which interferes substantially with access to counsel.”

As an immigrant prisoner, Mr. Osmani is caught up in a historic detention binge that often involves privately run prisons such as the Rolling Plains Regional Prison in Haskell, Texas, a 548-bed medium security prison that is managed by the Emerald Companies of Louisiana.

“In 1996,” reported Bustamante, “the Immigration and Naturalization Service had a daily detention capacity of 8,279 beds. By 2006, that had increased to 27,500 with plans for future expansion. At an average cost of US$ 95 per person per day, immigration detention costs the United States Government US$ 1.2 billion per year.”

“On average, there are over 25,000 migrants detained by immigration officials on any given
day,” reported Bustamante. “The conditions and terms of their detention are often prison-like: freedom of movement is restricted and detainees wear prison uniforms and are kept in a punitive setting.”

“In sum,” warned Rapporteur Bustamante, “in the current context the United States detention and deportation system for migrants lacks the kinds of safeguards that prevent certain deportation decisions and the detention of certain immigrants from being arbitrary within the meaning of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the United States has signed and ratified.”

Attorney Gibson agrees that the treatment of Mr. Osmani is at least arbitrary.

“DHS has unlimited discretion to decide whom to arrest and whom to leave alone, and whom to release on orders of supervision and whom to detain and deport,” said Gibson.

“I hope you will reconsider releasing Bujar on an order of supervision until his suit against [the defendants] is finished,” pleads Gibson. “Since the EOIR [Executive Office of Immigration Review] and the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] are totally unwilling to move against thieves and imposters . . . I would hope they at least could refrain from collaborating to prevent civil suits against them. There will be plenty of time to deal with Bujar’s immigration case after his lawsuit is over. Please release Bujar on an order of supervision.”

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