Habeas Writ for Hazahza Family Details Mistreatment at Haskell Jail

Note: the following summary of a habeas corpus writ prepared for filing in a Dallas federal court Wednesday has been incorporated into the story about the Texas Independence Day protest below.–gm

According to the habeas writ that will be filed Wednesday, the Hazazha family arrived in the USA with temporary visas during the summer of 2001 and applied for political asylum. Once the appeals for asylum had been exhausted, the family was placed under a warrant of deportation in the summer of 2005, but the family was never notified.
Suzi’s mother Juma and youngest brother Mohammad were released Feb. 6 from the Hutto jail only days before a media tour of that facility. But on Feb. 12 ICE filed notice that it intended to keep the rest of the family imprisoned at Haskell as “flight risks.” Meanwhile, Jordan refuses to take the family back. Palestine and Israel have declined to reply to requests for deportation there.

At Haskell prison, lawyers say housing units meant to house eight prisoners are frequently supplemented with sleeping bags or “boats” that allow for ten to fourteen prisoners to spend the night. When inspectors arrive, the “boats” are hidden from view.

When it comes to culturally appropriate food for Muslims, the only thing the facility offers is eggs, which are served for breakfast, lunch, and supper. At prayer, the Hazahzas report they have been mocked by guards and threatened with suspension of prayer privileges.

Lawyers are only allowed to visit with prisoners for thirty minutes at a time, and only “within regular hearing distance of a stationed guard.” The three Hazahza men have never been allowed to live together “despite written requests to be united in the same, or adjacent, pods.”

17-year-old Ahmad Hazahza was placed in solitary confinement for three months because he was a minor in an adult facility. When Ahmad began urinating blood shortly after his arrival, guards mocked his medical condition and “told him that he was ‘probably dying’ of a disease and that there was nothing that could be done to save him.” For ten days, his requests to see a doctor were denied.

Both Suzi and her 23-year-old sister Mirvat spent the first 48 hours at Haskell sleeping on cement floors of a drunk tank, because no beds were available. They both ran high fevers for two weeks after that, and were also denied requests to see a doctor.

The sisters were “strip searched” each time they met with an outside visitor, including humiliating inspections that took place in full view of male guards “on multiple occasions.” When taken to the recreation area, they were made to “walk the gauntlet” in front of male prisoners who sexually harassed them with techniques that included exhibition and public masturbation while guards laughed.

As with the attorneys’ previous Habeas Corpus motion filed in behalf of the Ibrahim family, Bardavid and Cox argue that ICE has no legal authority to arrest or detain the family; therefore, the five Hazahzas should be immediately released.

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