Letter Pleading for Release of Rrustem Neza from Texas Prison

6 November 2007

Nuria Prendes, Director
Dallas District DHS

Re: Rrustem NEZA
Nurie NEZA
Xheladin NEZA

Dear Ms. Prendes:

Please reconsider your refusal to released Rrustem Neza from detention while the private bills that Congressman Louie Gomert introduced on Mr. Neza’s behalf are decided by the Congress of the United States. Mr. Neza, who has no criminal history, has been in the Rolling Plains prison without bail since February 2007, almost 10 months. Continuing his detention serves no governmental purpose.

The mere introduction of the private bill prevents the deportation of Mr. Neza until at least 2009, while the Judiciary Committee obtains a report. Attached are copies of the private bills, and a letter from Congressman Gomert that was published in the newspaper. Furthermore, the Bureau has filed a suit in the United States District Court requesting permission to drug Mr. Neza and deport him, and the scheduling order the Court issued in that case provides for trial after 15 August 2008.

Mr. Neza now has pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals a Motion to Reopen, and before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals a Motion to Remand to the BIA, but even if both motions are denied, the soonest that he can be deported will be in late 2009. Mr. Neza is no flight risk, being the owner, with his wife, of a home, and, with his brother, of a restaurant in Nacogdoches, Texas, where his 6-year-old U.S. citizen son Princ and his 8-year-old son Xheladin are enrolled in school.

The probability that Mr. Neza’s case will be reopened and he will be granted asylum in the United States is great, although admittedly cannot be known with certainty at this moment. There is no reason, obviously, in light of his ties to the community, his property, and his family, to suppose he is a flight risk or a danger to anybody. Please release him from detention for the duration of his litigation, even if you decide to require the posting of a reasonable appearance bond. To keep Mr. Neza, who has committed no crime, in prison is gratuitously cruel to him and to his children. If you want any additional information, I will, of course, provide it to you instantly upon request. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Respectfully submitted,

cc: Rrustem Neza, in care of Xhemal Neza
U.S. Congressman Louie Gomert
Dianne Solis
Anabelle Garay
Greg Moses

Locking Up the Valley: Interview with Jodi Goodwin

By Nick Braune
Special to the Texas Civil Rights Review

I attended the vigil at the Raymondville Immigration Detention Center on the 27th of October. About 2000 people are held there, behind razor wire in huge puffy tents.

Jay Johnson Castro had walked up to the concentration camp from Harlingen, twenty-some miles away, and several people walked with him or rode behind in cars with signs in their windows. Partially because of some other events going on in the Rio Grand Valley that weekend, the rally was smaller than two others earlier this year. Still there were about 30 people there and lots of spirit, with several organizations represented.

At the vigil I spoke with Jodi Goodwin, a board certified immigration lawyer in Harlingen who has been vocal about the detention centers. In August she spoke at a dramatic forum in the Valley sponsored by the Committee Against Immigrant Repression and People for Peace and Justice. I asked if I could email some quick follow-up questions to her and she agreed to this interview.

Author: I was pleased last weekend to see that you came out to support the walk by Jay Johnson Castro, and I was impressed by the way you told one of the children at the rally to be proud that we were exercising our freedom of assembly. One thing I heard at the rally was disturbing. I heard something about another ICE (Immigration police) raid in the Valley. Was something special happening?

Goodwin: I am aware of two search warrants being executed in Brownsville and South Padre Island which resulted in four arrests, including a woman who was in the end of her eighth month of pregnancy. The woman developed complications with her pregnancy as soon as she was examined at the US Marshall’s facility. She then delivered her baby at home at 35 weeks gestation (5 weeks premature) just shy of 24 hours after bonding out of the Marshall’s custody. The mom is fine and released from the hospital, the baby remains in the hospital.

Author: Are there other women whom you know of who have been in detention while pregnant? A pregnant mom can need a lot of help, and being in one of those detention camps can be stressful. Are they getting the medical help they need and are there visitors giving any pregnancy and parenting training? (Dietary and exercise advice come to my mind.)

Goodwin: ICE detains pregnant women in the same facilities where they house all adult detainees. As far as I am aware there are no special treatments, pre-natal care, training, birth classes, etc. for pregnant women. I am aware of at least four women who have miscarried at Port Isabel Detention Center since approximately January. I have asked ICE about this and they claim to be aware of only one miscarriage.

Author: With all the bad publicity for the Raymondville center this year, have there been any significant improvements put into place?

Goodwin: Conditions at Raymondville have not improved. I just met with a client who was transferred from Port Isabel Detention Center to Willacy [Raymondville] and he reports living with rats and complete disorganization at the facility. He also reports and shows weight loss. Given that so many problems have not been addressed, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, particularly since they are expanding as we speak. [New construction, expansion of the center was clearly visible to all of us at the rally.]

Author: Thank you, counselor, for all your work on this.