Date: Fri, 14 Aug 98 17:12:04 CDT
From: Haiti Progres <email@example.com>
Organization: Haiti Progres
Subject: This Week in Haiti 16:21 8/12/98
"Our daily ordeal is going unnoticed": Cries for help from Krome
By Mark Dow, Haiti Progress, This Week in Haiti, Vol. 16, no. 21
12-18 August 1998
"It takes so much strength to take this every day."
--Nicaraguan woman at Miami's Krome detention center
A woman from Angola fled to Cape Town, South Africa, and then to
Miami, seeking political asylum. She spent about a month in
detention -- eating her meals at Krome, and sleeping in a hotel
room, where a male officer of the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) would wake her up throughout the night, pressuring
her for sex. She would turn over, cry, and try to sleep. She was
four months pregnant. When told of these allegations, a
supervisor at the Krome detention center "started to laugh,"
according to attorney Cheryl Little.
The Angolan woman's seven-year-old daughter cried, too, along
with the children of Somali women being detained at the same
hotel. The children cried because they were hungry. "Usually, the
officers will eat in front of the children who are hungry and
they offer them nothing," the Angolan woman told an attorney.
"The children cry and ask why they cannot have some and the
officers yell at them and tell us to keep them quiet."
"All of the guards are scary," she continues. "They yell at us.
They yell at the children and they do not let us sleep... My
daughter asked me why we were in prison. She does not understand
why she cannot eat or play at night and why I have to wear
prisoner's clothes." The husband was also detained in the Krome
clinic with a leg infection. When the woman experienced pains in
her belly during pregnancy, she asked permission to go to the
clinic. A guard told her, "'You aren't really sick, you just want
to see your husband.'"
There are detainees at Krome who emphasize that the officers
treat them fairly. A Somali woman who came to Miami via Egypt and
India has been detained for over two years now. "Personally, I
don't have any problem with any officer. And there are some very
good officers here. But, unfortunately, here it seems they use
the law to make problems for you, not to try to solve problems."
Despite her generosity, the Somali woman's own account reveals
the familiar INS tactics of retaliation and repression: "If you
talk here to Amnesty International [or] human rights groups like
that you are going to get transferred. . . . We are very afraid
of this." Even the INS's Caryl Thompson, Acting-Officer-in-Charge
at Krome, told a meeting of advocacy groups in May 1998,
according to an attorney present, "that the problem was that some
officers did not want to accept the fact that detainees were
"[T]he biggest problem here is what this place does to you," says
the woman from Somalia, who is willing to be deported to escape
indefinite detention. "For example, a [Polish] woman here . . .
died last week," she said in January 1998. "She had a passport
and papers to go back but they kept her anyway. I think she was
very depressed. And a lot of the Chinese girls have tried to do
suicide, drink bleach for example. And _______ from Nigeria, died
here on January 1st in 1996. I was playing soccer with him when
he collapsed. We tried to help him, to open his mouth and give
[him] air, but the medical emergency crew didn't come in time.
They transported him to an outside hospital and the next day we
heard he was dead. And nobody did anything here, no one accepted
any responsibility. They just told us he was dead. He was here at
Krome for more than 18 months, he had a family in Miami. How
could they just forget this so easily?"
These accounts of life and death at Krome are based on materials
provided by Miami's Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC). One
name recurs throughout the collection of newspaper clippings and
detainee affidavits: Lulseged Dhine. Dhine is responsible for
collecting many of the details on the current conditions at
Krome, and Krome officials have reportedly asked Dhine to
organize a law library at the detention center. But Dhine is not
an attorney -- he is an INS prisoner, perhaps the nation's
best-known detainee, whose case has been covered by the New York
Times, the New York Post, the Boston Globe, and the Miami Herald.
Lulseged Dhine has been detained by the INS for eight years now.
In 1994, he helped organize a demonstration outside Manhattan's
Varick Street detention center to protest conditions on the
inside -- where he was being held.. A report by the American
Civil Liberties Union would later document such facts as
detainees being held for months, even years, without being
permitted outdoors. In the middle of the night, Dhine was
transferred to the INS's Service Processing Center in Florence,
Arizona; an INS spokesman claimed the move was "to accommodate
his request for fresh air and outdoor recreation" (Alisa Solomon,
"The Prison on Varick Street," New York Times editorial, June 11,
1994). Dhine told The Arizona Republic that the transfer was in
fact a form of retaliation -- a far more likely explanation.
Those familiar with INS tactics will recognize the agency's
long-standing strategy of isolating "troublemakers" -- that is,
those who stand up when their rights are being violated -- from
their attorneys, their support systems, and their media contacts.
Journalist Alisa Solomon explains the background to Dhine's case:
"Dhine came to the US in 1978 when he was 15, as what was then
called a conditional entrant refugee (before the current
political asylum law was enacted). The year before, he had seen
his parents and brother brutally murdered by the Mengistu regime.
He fled on foot into the Sudan, and got assistance from a
Christian refugee agency, which helped him come to America. He
spent some time in Greenville, North Carolina, before being drawn
north to the urban anonymity of Washington, DC. There, he
recalls, his trauma caught up with him: he found escape in drugs.
After several convictions -- all misdemeanors carrying sentences
of less than a year , which he served in full -- the INS picked
him up and began deportation proceedings in 1990. It was then
that Dhine began fighting." ("Exiled from the Promised Land,"
Village Voice, March 10, 1998).
Today, at age thirty-five, Dhine's fight goes on, though the only
avenue left is an appeal to the US Supreme Court, since a federal
court has upheld the INS decision to deport him (there is also
some possibility of deportation to a third country, such as
France or Israel). In 1997, still in Arizona, Dhine suffered back
injuries and is now confined to a wheelchair. In April 1998, he
was transferred to Krome because, INS officials told the Miami
Herald, that facility is easier for someone in a wheelchair to
move around in (Andres Viglucci, "Ethiopian Jew at Krome fights
deportation," June 7, 1998).
In late June, Dhine was pulled out of his wheelchair by a Krome
guard. Dhine's own account of the incident matches those given by
a Lebanese and a Jamaican detainee to FIAC. According to these
statements, the officer refused the Jamaican man's request to
cash his money orders (a standard procedure at Krome). When the
Jamaican, who is paralyzed on his right side, repeated his
request, the officer took offense at the prisoner's insistence,
asking "Am I supposed to jump when you ask me to do something?"
The officer then stepped on the man's foot and pushed him aside
so that he could shut the door.
Dhine attempted to intervene. "The officer became angry with Mr.
Dhine because Mr. Dhine insisted that the officer's supervisor be
present so that I could file a grievance based on how I had been
pushed and stepped on, says the Jamaican." The officer then
turned off a television set; Dhine, using his cane, turned it on
again, and the officer turned it off again. Then the officer
grabbed Dhine's cane, and ended up pulling him to the ground.
Dhine lay on the floor for thirty to forty-five minutes. Then he
spent another two hours in the Krome clinic without any medical
attention, he says. Eventually, at Jackson Memorial Hospital, he
was given pain killers, a neck brace, and an arm sling. Then, in
the middle of the night -- the INS's preferred transfer time --
he was returned to Krome. "I was shackled to my bed until eight
in the morning," he told attorneys. "I was told by other
detainees . . . that the phones were turned off from 6 PM the
night of the incident until 10 am the following morning.
Detainees were denied phone access to their attorneys and family
members during those hours. I believe the phones were shut off so
that detainees at Krome would not alarm the media of the abuse
that had occurred."
Dhine told the Miami Herald: "That's why they want to get rid of
me. Because I'm bringing a lot of heat to them. They are
pressuring you to go. You are supposed to bow down before them."
While Dhine continues to speak his mind, his attorney Douglas
Baruch of New York continues to urge the INS to "exercise
discretion in Mr. Dhine's favor after considering his documented
good deeds and his medical and religious circumstances" (since
being detained, he has reaffirmed his faith as an orthodox Jew;
rabbi's have testified to his character). About ten days after
the wheelchair incident, Dhine said in a telephone interview from
Krome, "They have shown their power. They have done it, and they
got away with it."
US Attorney General Janet Reno has the authority to release
Lulseged Dhine and any other INS prisoner from detention while
their cases are decided. But, as New York Congressman Jerrold
Nadler told the Village Voice, the people running the INS are
"bureaucrats who think it's their duty to torture as many people
as possible." In fact, according to two long-time refugee
advocates, while there are a number of Washington officials who
would like to make the INS detention system more humane, they
feel that they cannot fight the local officials and their little
The Jamaican man involved in the incident at Krome later told
FIAC attorneys: "The problem with Krome is that both the living
conditions and the manner of treatment from the officers are
dehumanizing. I am 40 years old, older than a lot of the officers
here. I have grandchildren. I think older people deserve respect,
regardless of whether they are detainees. I don't deserve to be
pushed around, especially since I am unable to fight back . . .
The conditions just aren't right here, and something should be
Something is being done: the INS detention machine is getting
bigger, as well as more efficient in its mistreatment of those
deemed undesirable in the current political climate. Recent
changes reflect the INS's attempts to bring the notorious Krome
North Service Processing Center, as it is officially known, into
the contemporary age of corrections. Dormitories are now referred
to as "pods," for example, but no matter what they are called,
they remain overcrowded. The Miami District Office reported the
Krome population at 344 on August 6th, while acknowledging that
"We like to keep the population at approximately 274, 275.
However we do have other buildings that can hold a lot more
people" -- buildings such as the Public Health Service clinic,
which detainees report to be filthy and roach-infested (see
detainee letter). Nationwide, the INS expects an average daily
detained population of approximately 24,000 by the year 2001,
about half of these in county jails (the daily average for 1996
was about 8500). The INS is requesting $10.7 million for four new
detention projects in fiscal year 2000, according to the U.S.
Committee for Refugees, a non-governmental organization.
After years of stonewalling advocacy groups, the INS this year
finally issued a set of Detention Standards to govern such things
as access to attorneys, telephones, and medical treatment. One of
the new standards concerns "access to legal materials" for
detainees. The U.S. Committee for Refugees, citing the Department
of Justice, reports that "less than 11 percent of detainees were
represented in their immigration proceedings in 1996, compared to
52 percent of non-detained persons in immigration proceedings."
In July, Krome officials put detainee Dhine in charge of
organizing a law library at Krome. Advocates have been demanding
such a library for years. Dhine says that there are plenty of
materials available; the problem he anticipates is that there is
only enough room for seven detainees at a time in the library
area. In any case, this situation exemplifies the double-edged
sword of improved detention conditions. Of course, it is better
for detainees to have access to legal materials. But this change
will allow the INS to boast of "improvements" while it detains
and isolates more and more people.
Krome, according to spokeswoman Mar!a Elena Garc!a, is "currently
using the standards of the American Correctional Association,"
which are cited in the national INS standards. "We are currently
seeking accreditation from them and we expect the walk-through to
happen later on this year." But according to Christina DeConcini
of the American Bar Association, while the new standards seem to
be having a positive effect in some parts of the country, "a
recent tour of Krome revealed that it was not meeting the
majority of the standards." (DeConcini adds that, unfortunately,
the standards do not cover the local jails in which the INS holds
half of those in its custody.) Nine detainees report in an open
letter to FIAC attorneys dated July 15, 1998, that Krome
officials are violating the new standards in their handling of
hunger strikes, recreation, and clothing for the prisoners (see
The arbitrariness of the jailers will continue to be the only
true rule. Detainees will remain without any meaningful recourse
when they are mistreated. Their July letter demands that the
phone lines to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) "be
unblocked so that detainees could file complaints if necessary."
(The OIG is the watchdog agency of the Justice Department.) But
even if detainees could reach the OIG's answering machine that
records caller's complaints about government misconduct, it would
hardly matter. Those who are not detained and who have the
resources to follow up on complaints to the OIG have long
recognized the futility of the process. The OIG, according to
Human Rights Watch/Americas, lacks both resources and
independence. "Many OIG investigators are former Border Patrol or
INS agents," and "[a]pproximately 98 percent of INS abuse cases
eventually are handled by the INS itself," according to a 1995
Human Rights Watch report concerning abuses along the US-Mexico
(In 1996, I wrote to the Miami INS District Director to convey
detainee allegations that a Krome officer had entered the men's
dormitory, lowered his pants, and threatened to "fuck our ass."
Two years later, documents obtained through the Freedom of
Information Act revealed that the officer, Elio Gonzales, was
simply reprimanded and sent back to work.)
Beyond such outright violence, the abuse inherent in the simple
fact of unnecessary detention will continue. As Dhine said from
Krome in early August, "They can get away with anything because
society is not caring . . . unless society reacts, telling [that]
this is unacceptable, our torture and our daily ordeal is going
In Miami in the early 90's, the community did react -- with
demonstrations outside the gates of Krome to augment the quieter
work of legal advocates. It's time for more noise.
In New York and New Jersey, volunteers are needed to visit INS
detainees to help break their isolation. For more information,
please call the Jesuit Refugee Service at (973) 733-3516.
"WE PROTEST . . .": EXCERPTS FROM A LETTER BY KROME DETAINEES TO THE FLORIDA
IMMIGRANT ADVOCACY CENTER
July 15, 1998
Medical Care [and Clinic Facilities]
The medical care at Krome is incredibly lacking. The doctors . .
. have been doing the same things for so long and getting away
with it that they will not change . . . There are epileptic
detainees who are not given their medication, then when they have
seizures, they are yelled at and threatened to be sent to county
[T]he nurses are trained more to abuse us than treat us. . . .
[T]hey look at us as criminals. For example, we are consistently
yelled at, there is no shower assistance for disabled persons,
nor help with cleaning or making our beds, even for those
physically unable to move normally or see.
Detainees are not provided with their daily medication on time. .
. . When detainees complain, refusal notices are quickly placed
in our files without the consent of the patient. . . . We are
treated like animals.
It is important that our health is closely monitored, because we
are housed in very close quarters. . . . The infirmary is
extremely dirty, including the shower and bathroom, and it is
There is no handicap access for the bathrooms in [the clinic].
In [one clinic area], there are only two toilets for 40 or more
people. This is a medical recovery unit, for all kinds of sick
Because of lime deposits, the small drinking fountains at sink
tops are all clogged and inoperable.
Bathroom ventilation seems non-existent. . . . the stench of
urine seems overpowering.
Presently there are a group of ill detainees responsible for
cleaning the [clinic] facility. . . . It should be the
responsibility of the INS staff.
General Treatment Issues
There are many detainees who have gone on hunger strikes. The
guards are aware of this yet the detainees are not taken to [the
clinic]. The Detention Standards say that a detainee should be
brought to the [clinic] for monitoring, evaluation and eventual
treatment after 72 hours of not eating. There is one detainee who
was on a hunger strike for 17 days before he was transferred to
[the clinic] for monitoring. Additionally, the medical staff does
not encourage detainees on a hunger strike to eat, instead they
ignore the detainee in the hopes that he or she will go away. One
detainee was taken to the hospital after not having eaten for
about 50 days, he was unconscious. He has not returned.
Deportation officers often do not provide detainees with
information regarding the status of their cases. The deportation
officers also don't expedite the process of obtaining travel
documents to execute departure forcing detainees to remain
detained even longer [after they have been ordered deported].
This is further hindered when the detainees are transferred to
the county jails.
We protest to having minors and children with detention uniforms.
. . We protest that minors and children are not being treated
fairly. They sleep on the floor without mats and clothing. They
go to the hotel between 4:30 pm and 5:30 am, and they are brought
to the facility so early in the morning to suffer. In the room
they are kept, there is no bathroom, no recreation for the
children and no baby food. They should not be wearing a jail
uniform, it is unconstitutional and it is unacceptable.
No male guards should be allowed to go into the hotel room of a
female detainee with her child . . .
Many times our fellow detainees are forced to stay and sleep in
the processing holding tank, sometimes on the floor, sometimes
without mats and blankets for sometimes 24 or more hours. This is
Several of the INS Officers continue to be abusive to detainees.
They intimidate the detainees when they ask for request forms or
help by threatening to transfer the detainee to other
institutions (i.e. jails).
There seems to be a group of family members who are officer[s]
that work together under the same supervision . . . Anytime
complaints are made about these individuals, the detainee is
quickly transferred to a county jail.
Basically there is no grievance procedure or form in Krome . . .
Detainees who make complaints are often transferred to county
Our clothing is not always changed even twice per week, many
times it is only once a week. In Miami, it is very hot and muggy,
and our clothes get smelly and dirty fast . . . Underwear, socks,
shorts and tee-shirts are not provided on a daily exchange as
required under the Detention Standards. . . . Indigent detainees
are not afforded underwear. Our underclothes we have to wash
ourselves, in the sink, and there is no place to dry them. We can
not hang them to dry.
The meals at Krome are served starting at 6:30 am for breakfast
and dinner is served at 4 pm. Between dinner and breakfast, the
detainees in building 8 have no access to food. No food or drinks
is allowed in the dorm.
In the new building 8, the set up of the pods forces the
detainees to use the toilets and showers in full view of the
others in the dorm, especially those watching TV. This is a
degrading experience. In the new building number 8, the freedom
of movement is more restricted than in prior housing.
We protest the use of detainees as slaves to wash government cars
and buses in exchange for fresh air, sunlight, cigarette breaks
and $1 per day.
Detention standards and A[merican] C[orrectional] A[ssociation]
standards provide for 7 days per week of recreation. This is
being deprived at Krome, especially on Saturday and Sunday, but
it is also denied on some of the weekdays for no apparent reason.
. . . We believe this is a violation of our rights
Krome needs to have a chaplain. Detainees are nor afforded the
right to exercise the faith of their choice which constitutes a
violation of the first amendment of the US Constitution.
There is also a complete disregard of cultural differences.
Offices generally treat detainees of different cultures without
any respect or understanding. They make fun of detainees culture
or insult and threaten them. . . . This adds to the stress and
humiliation of those detained, especially when the detainee does
not speak English or Spanish.
There is a great deal of favoritism by the many officers toward
Spanish speaking detainees.
Law and Leisure Libraries
The law library is nonexistent and desperately needed. . . . It
is very hard to get a copy of legal documents. This impairs the
adequate preparation of our cases to enable a fair hearing since
the government does not appoint lawyers to us in Removal
Photocopy machines and typewriters should be available to the
detainees for legal purposes to ensure that the detainees can
prepare the documents needed for their cases.
[D]etainees are told we will have to stay detained for long
periods of time while we wait [for our cases]. What is the
purpose of waiting if we cannot present a case because we do not
have the tools we need?
Detainees are prohibited to have in our possession magazines,
books, and other literature. Instead, we are forced to watch TV
all day. We need books to read.
There is also need for a leisure reading library. As detainees
are locked up for 23 hours per day in their housing units, we
believe it is only fair to set up a leisure library for detainees
to check out books and magazines so they have mind recreation,
instead of wasting their minds in very negative surroundings.
Access to Attorneys, Family and Other Individuals
We are deprived use of the telephone in [the clinic] for long
distance including our attorneys and loved ones. The phone has
been broken for two weeks in [the clinic]. This can be verified
in the logbook.
The telephone continues to take our $.35, our money, without the
call going through. When we ask the phone company, they tell us
to talk to INS. When we talk to INS, including the O[fficer] I[n]
C[harge], they tell us to talk to Bell South. We believe that it
is unconstitutional and unacceptable for a private company, like
Bell South, to make false profits from us.
The telephone should not have a time limit when we are talking to
our attorneys. Currently, there is a 15 minute time limit to talk
to our attorneys. We believe this is a violation of our attorney
client privilege. We demand that phone limit be lifted. We should
have unlimited calls to our attorneys. Also the telephones do not
meet standards for confidential calls
Attorney Access. The major problem is the delays of several hours
in bringing detainees for attorney visits. Many times when we get
to the attorney visit, our attorneys have left because they could
not wait any longer.
There is a list of free legal service providers posted in the
dorms, but it is not accurate.
The telephone number for the Office of the Inspector General
(OIG) should be unblocked so that detainees could file complaints
if necessary. Additionally, the OIG forms should be available to
all detainees in all dorms.
There is still a problem with the mail. This should be a priority
because detainees are depending on family and attorneys for
correspondence. Detainees often do not get their mail on time.
Detainees are not provided with envelopes nor stamps. Krome does
not ensure the sale of envelopes and stamps which impairs the
detainee's legal postage as well as correspondence with their
There is no mailbox for the detainees to place their mail in to
be picked up by a postal officer. Instead the mail is given to a
Detention Officer, who may be the same officer that has
threatened to send you to a county jail if you do anything that
he does not like.
Family visitation. Detainees are not afforded the full time for
visitation. INS officers are very abusive to our visitors. They
are verbally abusive to our visitors. There is no written policy
notifying the detainees of the visitation policy and time limit.
There is partiality in the visitations. Some people get 5
minutes, others get a half hour to 45 minutes. Sometimes people
stand in the visitors' line with no one to visit. Then they sell
their spots to others for $10.
The space available for visitation is insufficient.
We feel that the grievances we have raised are legitimate.
Medical records and the testimony of certain detainees will
support our position. There are many other abuses committed by
the INS, and to detail them would be tantamount to writing a
book. We give our heartfelt thanks to the F[lorida] I[mmigrant]
A[dvocacy] C[enter] for its concern for our welfare, and we wish
it success in eradicating injustice in America, which the
founding fathers fought to prevent in the first place.
The Krome Detainees As Signed Below
[nine signatures follow]
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