Tag Archives: United States

Deportation by Default, Part Two: United States Wrongfully Deports Disabled Citizen

In July, a study was released discussing disabled immigrants and revealing some alarming facts about who is in immigration detention in the United States. I wrote about it here, and the numbers were pretty astounding. The study uncovered the fact that 15% of the people in immigration detention in the United States had disabilities that impaired their ability to understand immigration proceedings. They were unable to defend themselves in court and unable to understand their legal rights. Some were kept for years in detention while officials debated what to do with them.

Immigration law is one of the most tangled areas of law in the United States. The system is complex and labyrinthine and it’s extremely difficult to navigate. It’s even harder when you’ve been held in detention for weeks, months, or years and you’ve been provided with inadequate care; being in confinement is stressful, and can exacerbate mental illness for some people, making it even more challenging to make your way through the court system. The ACLU set out some immediate demands in their report to get better protections for disabled detainees; as far as I know, those demands have not been met.

The report also documented cases of US citizens with disabilities who were deported because they were the wrong colour and they were unable to defend themselves in court. Just last week, I read a followup on a case I discussed; the American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of Mark Lyttle, who was deported and left to fend for himself in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala for four months before he was able to get assistance from a US embassy. This case has been dragging on for over a year.

Lyttle is of Puerto Rican descent, but he’s lived in the United States his whole life. He only speaks English. The government knew this when they deported him:

The U.S. government admitted in April that it had wrongly deported an N.C. native, but newly released documents show that federal investigators ignored FBI records and other evidence showing that the man was a United States citizen.

At the time of Mark Lyttle’s deportation, immigration officials had criminal record checks that said he was a U.S. citizen. They had his Social Security number and the names of his parents. They had Lyttle’s own sworn statement that he had been born in Rowan County. (source)

His story started when he was briefly jailed for ‘behavioural problems’ in a home for people with mental illness. Officials referred his case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) despite being aware that he was a US citizen. ICE detained him, investigated, denied him legal counsel, and deported him to Mexico.

As he drifted homeless and penniless through Central America, he was unable to access the medications he was taking to treat his mental illness. Unstable environments contributed to a deterioration of his mental state. He considered suicide. He was imprisoned by multiple sets of officials and deported a second time when he managed to re-enter the United States. Finally, after reaching an embassy, his family was contacted and he was brought safely back into the United States.

There are layers of problems with this case. There’s the documented issue that ICE fails to serve people with disabilities in immigration detention, making it impossible for undocumented immigrants, documented immigrants, and wrongfully detained citizens alike to make their way through immigration proceedings; it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to self-represent in immigration court, let alone someone who is disabled, isolated, frightened, and not getting adequate care. It’s clear that a better system needs to be put in place to screen people when they enter detention so they can be provided with adequate services, if we are going to be detaining people at all.

And there’s the problem, not restricted to people with disabilities, of deporting people simply because they appear to be undocumented immigrants. If you have brown skin, if you ‘look Mexican,’ whether or not you are, whether or not you have documentation, there is  a potential risk of deportion. ICE raids in workplaces across the country have swept up legal immigrants along with US citizens, including some people who have never been outside the US. Despite ample documentation, these people have been deported. Because they look wrong.

Cesar Ramirez Lopez, a San Pablo truck driver, won a $10,000 settlement in 2007 after he was held for four days by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents even after his lawyer convinced ICE investigators that he was a citizen.

Rennison Castillo, a Washington state man who was born in Belize but took his oath of citizenship while serving in the U.S. Army in 1998, who spent seven months in an ICE prison in 2006. He is suing the government with the help of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle.

Some longtime observers of the immigration agency say that, while citizens make up a tiny fraction of the roughly 400,000 people who pass through ICE custody each year, such cases occur with some regularity. The problem is exacerbated, they say, by the fact that immigration detainees, unlike those in the criminal justice system, lack the right to legal counsel and other due process protections. (source)

One of the cornerstones of the legal system in the United States is supposed to be the premise that people are innocent until proven guilty. Yet, in the case of deportation proceedings, people are…guilty until deported. Denial of basic legal rights to people in immigration detention is a travesty and a human rights violation. People are intimidated into complying with deportation proceedings:

The young man was bullied into signing a form authorizing his voluntary deportation, except that it wasn’t made clear to Delgado that by affixing his John Hancock he was okaying being shipped off to Mexico. His belief was that he would be allowed to return home in Houston if he just did as he was told. (source)

This is a problem that goes far beyond the issues with disabled detainees in particular. The current state of our immigration system is a travesty that needs to be addressed; it is a foreign policy issue, it is a human rights problem, it is a fundamental violation of everything the United States claims to stand for. Providing basic legal rights to all people in immigration detention should be an immediate priority for the United States, because this has got to stop.

Signal Boost: ADA Transportation Webinars

(Via email)

Dear Friends,

The Topic Guides on ADA Transportation, a series of technical assistance documents funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and developed by DREDF and TranSystems Corporation, will be featured in a series of seven once-a-month webinars, one webinar on each Topic Guide. The webinar series will be coordinated by the DBTAC Great Lakes ADA Center and the DBTAC-Southwest ADA Center in collaboration with Easter Seals Project ACTION.

Registration: Registration is available on-line at www.adaconferences.org.

Funded by FTA to provide technical assistance on transportation to transit agencies, riders, and advocates, the Topic Guides on ADA Transportation bring together the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Department of Transportation ADA regulations, FTA determinations, and best operational practices for ADA compliance. The Topic Guides also draw information from many other sources. The Topic Guides are available online at http://dredf.org/ADAtg.

Webinar Schedule: Second Tuesday of the month, beginning October 12, 2010 and ending April 12, 2011.

Time:
2 pm to 3:30 pm Eastern Time
1 to 2:30 PM Central Time
12 to 1:30 Mountain Time
11 to 12:30 Pacific Time
10 to 11:30 Alaska Time
(Hawaii time will vary)

Presenter(s): Marilyn Golden, DREDF Policy Analyst and invited guests to be announced

This series of Topic Guide Webinars will include:

1. Equipment Maintenance (October 12)

2. Stop Announcement and Route Identification (November 9)

3. Eligibility for ADA Paratransit (December 14)

4. Telephone Hold Time in ADA Paratransit (January 11)

5. Origin to Destination Service in ADA Paratransit (February 8 )

6. On-Time Performance in ADA Paratransit (March 8 )

7. No-Shows in ADA Paratransit (April 12)

View the Topic Guide Home Page, which offers each Topic Guide in HTML, a PDF download, and a plain text option, at http://dredf.org/ADAtg.

The FTA Office of Civil Rights has also linked to the Topic Guides on ADA Transportation on its ADA website at www.fta.dot.gov/ada under DREDF.

Unfortunately I will be unable to answer any questions about these webinars.

Recommended Reading for 8 October, 2010

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Anna linked to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s coverage of this story earlier in the week, now here is Cara’s analysis at The Curvature: Australian Women Report Sexual Abuse in Victoria Psychiatric Wards:

Everyone deserves safety, no matter what their mental health or disability status. But there is an extra responsibility to keep safe those who have been placed in restrictive and vulnerable environments.

stuff to say in class by Amanda Forest Vivian at I’M SOMEWHERE ELSE:

I mean, to me this is common sense and people should already be questioning “non-disabled people>>>>everyone else forever,” but if we really need a study to show that forced normalization in every area of life is really NOT SMART, studying women would be an easy way to do it.

Sorry I’m so inconvenient by Kali at Brilliant Mind Broken Body:

I hate things like this, where it feels like I’m treated as an inconvenience. It’s not like I get some kind of power trip asking for accomodations. I don’t push people around because it’s fun. When I ask for something, it’s because I NEED it, and my health, safety, and ability to continue going to school are jeopardized.

Look, I’m sorry I’m so inconvenient. But if you had to deal with the sheer number of inconveniences I deal with every day because of my disabilities, you’d realize that I’m really asking for very little.

From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, American Apparel Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination:

American Apparel, Inc., a clothing manufacturer which operates what it says is the largest garment factory in the nation, violated federal law when it terminated a disabled garment worker while he was on medical leave for cancer treatment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed last week.

At the New Zealand Herald: Call to rescue IHC providers rejected:

Health Minister Tony Ryall has ruled out a Government bailout of disability services facing hundreds of millions of dollars debt for backpay arising from an Employment Court ruling.

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Recommended Reading for Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another fast & furious recommended reading today, folks! Yay for busy schedules all around, right? I am glad I try to keep up with the news, though, because I learned that legislation passed in the US that will enforce captioning and descriptive audio! I don’t actually have a t.v., but the last time I stayed in a hotel I was very excited to learn that descriptive audio is used regularly on at least some Canadian stations. I’d love to see it, and proper captioning, available everywhere.

But, enough random commentary from me. Links for everyone!

I Am PWD: New Study Reveals Lack of Characters with Disabilities on Television

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and a new report released today on minority representation on broadcast television shows that scripted characters with disabilities will represent only one percent of all scripted series regular characters — six characters out of 587 — on the five broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC. Not only is this invisibility in the media misrepresentative of people with disabilities, it also means few opportunities for actors with disabilities to be cast.

yasonablack in ontd_feminism: These Will Be The Only Things I’ve Learned From “Higher Education”

I had put so much work into college. I had fought through anxiety and panic attacks and mind-numbing boredom with classes. I always handed in my essays on time (except for that one), I took tests on time and finished them early, and I showed up for the majority of classes. I even participated in class on low anxiety days. I always made sure that college and education came before anything else, before a social life, before internet, before anything else. So I assumed that all I had to do to get back on an even playing field at school was meet with the school’s disability office and all would be good. Sure, I was disabled, but I could find alternate ways of getting around things. I had to. Everyone kept telling me how much harder it would be to get a job, so graduating would be even more important than ever. No one told me how much harder school would be.

One of the first things I’ve ever learned at college is the able-bodied rules of dealing with disabled classmates/students.

Lisa at Where’s the Benefit: The Human Cost of Benefit Cuts

Any loss of life is tragic. I hope that at least his death can serve as a wake up call to those attacking us that their actions do have very real consequences. Ultimately I would like to see Paul’s death prevent any more disabled people being put in the economic position where they feel that death is their only option.

Quotidian Dissent: Sitting In Wheelchairs, Standing Up For Their Rights [This is an internet news source about the ADAPT protest, so the language is a lot of “wheelchair bound” and “how brave!”]

The central focus this year is nursing homes. According to the group, programs like Medicaid favor nursing homes, which they say provide a lower quality of life, as a means of caring for those who need assistance. “I’m protesting to get people out of nursing homes all over the country. I’m here for them, because they cannot come down here themselves, and I can,” says Wallach.

Having lived in a Rochester nursing home until recently, Wallach is adamant that nursing home residents “have no rights. They eat what they’re served. They get a shower once a week! That’s it. There is nothing for them to do in a nursing home.”

In The News:

US: 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Legislation Passes. “The legislation requires captioned television programs to be captioned also when delivered over the Internet and requires video description on television for people with vision loss.”

Canada: Bus stop call system hits bumps. “A few glitches still need to be worked out in the new automated next-stop call system being installed on OC Transpo buses this week, according to riders.”

Recommending Reading for Monday, October 4, 2010

Today’s Recommended Reading is very fast because my laptop battery is about to die.

Trigger Warnings & Comments are not always great & not all opinions are endorsed by us. Normally I clip a bit from each article, but today is going to be quick links. Sorry!

Wordweaverlynn: A Public Service Announcement Re: “So if you’re looking for a counselor who won’t tell you you’re crazy because you have unconventional desires”

Cathy Writes Stuff: Another Crack of the Whip from an Ignorant Tory Re: Comments about how REAL disabled people aren’t on twitter.

Where’s the Benefit: The Real Difference Made by Disability Living Allowance

In the News:

UK: Outrage as agony aunt tells TV audience ‘I would suffocate a child to end its suffering’

UK: The Battle for Independence Begins in our homes

UK: Frequent Tweeting Doesn’t Make One A Benefit Cheat, Nadine Dorries

Australia: Women assaulted in mental health wards Re: gender-segregated wards in Australian mental health facilities.

US: A Crowning Achievement: FSHS Homecoming opens new door (via Rainbow on DW) Re: There was a policy that prevented students with disabilities being nominated for homecoming court.

Calls for Papers

US Conference:

The Association on Higher Education And Disability is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for its 34th Annual Conference, “AHEAD 2011: Sustainable Access through Partnership.”

The conference will be held July 11-16, 2011 at the Washington Convention Center in Seattle, Washington, USA

The Call for Proposals Submission Deadline is October 25, 2010

The 2011 conference theme, “Sustainable Access through Partnership”, celebrates the reality that the accessible college environment, instructional and physical, is the domain of many partners. Recent years have brought the challenges of increasing and emerging student populations and shrinking budgets and resources, leading us to seek equitable design that is sustainable across time, resources, and populations. The 2011 conference will highlight creative approaches to promoting long-ranging, or sustainable, access and equity through collaboration.

Proposals are welcomed from all AHEAD members, college professionals, faculty and others who do research, teach, or work in the fields of disability and higher education.

Full details and instructions for the Call for Proposals are available at The conference webpage.

We look forward to receiving your proposals!

Canadian Conference:

CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS

INTERSECTIONS AND CONNECTIONS WITH DISABILITY STUDIES

In keeping with the Congress theme for 2011 “Coasts and Continents: Exploring Peoples and Places / Rivages et continents : exploration des peuples et des lieux,” CDSA-ACEI encourages attendees at the 2011 conference to explore the geographical, historical, literary, artistic, socio-economic and political world that shapes disability studies and can be shaped by disability studies; to explore the place of disability studies in the world and how the world of disability studies is shaped by an individual’s and a people’s experience. This CFP in particular encourages submissions on glocalization, global citizenship and disability studies.

CDSA-ACEI’s 8th annual conference aims to connect Disability Studies scholars with scholars in different fields and spaces; to connect the discipline of Disability Studies globally and glocally.

For the first time for CDSA-ACEI, this CFP has a section where you can indicate whether you want to present your paper in person or virtually (more information on the proposal form).

Check out the conference website

Recommended Reading for 1 October, 2010

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

First up, something close to my heart as a user of Sydney public transport from Jo Tamar at Wallaby: Accessibility and Sydney’s public transport: people with different mobilities on buses. I am forever glaring at the dehumanising ‘For more information on travelling with wheelchairs, seniors and prams’ sign. No pullquote as the post is about too many things for one, you’ll just have to click through.

From Beth Haller, Ph.D. & Lingling Zhang, Ph.D., both of Towson University, Towson, Md., USA, at Media and disability resources, we have Highlights of 2010 survey of people with disabilities about media representations, and is there ever a lot packed in there:

In the summer of 2010, an online survey of people with disabilities from around the world was undertaken to find out what they think about their representation by the news and entertainment media.

From the Associated Press, (US) Congress changes intellectual disability wording:

Disabilities advocates on Thursday applauded Congress for passing legislation that eliminates the term “mental retardation” from federal laws.

Attitudes Towards People with a Disability Changing Ahead of London 2012

Attitudes towards people with a disability in Great Britain are improving and could be one of the legacies of the London 2012 Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) were told this week at a three day project review with the London Organizing Committee.

From The Irish Times, State urged to ratify UN disability treaty:

FORMER EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn has called on the Government to ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Speaking on EU disability policy at NUI Galway, Mr Flynn noted Ireland had signed the treaty in March 2007, but had not progressed to implementing its provisions.

Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.

Recommended Reading for 28 September, 2010

I hope all is well in your world on this fine Tuesday! Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Canada: Disabled-services flip-flop at Winnipeg Free Press:

The about-face came one day after an internal U of W memo was leaked to media and revealed a number of university programs to help disabled students were on the chopping block. The decision outraged students and raised eyebrows since it comes just weeks after the U of W launched a new disability degree program devoted to the “critical analysis of disability in society.”

USA: College Web Pages Are ‘Widely Inaccessible’ to People With Disabilities from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The study found that more colleges are deploying basic accessibility features, like adding alternative text to images so a blind student can understand them with read-aloud software.

But those gains were offset by challenges from inaccessible emerging technologies. For example, a person with disabilities who can’t use a mouse will often be stymied by a Web site that requires users to hover their mouse over a page element to trigger a sub-menu.

Australia: Disabled drivers get no favours on private property from the Brisbane Times:

The Department of Transport, which issues disabled parking permits under its Disability Parking Permit Scheme, is powerless to protect drivers who park in shopping centres, with centre management charged with enforcing the scheme there.

India: Promote sign language, urges deaf association from expressbuzz.com:

More than 100 members of the Deaf Enabled Foundation, an NGO for the deaf, took out a rally on International Day of the Deaf, here on Sunday, from the Labour Statue to Light House.

And, also from India, framed in possibly the most patronising way possible, Movie made by deaf and dumb to premiere on Oct 9 from the Indian Express:

The movie Amir=Garib, to be premiered on October 9 in the Town Hall Auditorium, has all the essentials of a Bollywood flick, but one fundamental element — sound. The movie has been made by deaf and dumb people.

Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.

Recommended Reading for 24 September, 2010: Travelling Edition

This edition, like the transportation edition earlier this month, was Anna’s idea!

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites  tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily  endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Disability News Asia: Tata Motors buses for Commonwealth Games in India will be disabled-friendly:

Tata Motors will deliver disabled-friendly vehicles to the Delhi Government for the Commonwealth Games this year.

“We have an extra order to make 400 buses for the Delhi Transport Corporation to be used during the Games, of which some will be disabled-friendly,” Mr Ravi Pisharody, President, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors told Business Line.

flightmapping.com: EasyJet face French probe over disability policy:

France’s Transport Minister, Dominique Bussereau, has asked the French civil aviation authority, DGAC, to investigate allegations that easyJet would not allow disabled passengers to fly without a travel companion.

CBC: OC Transpo unveils visual, audio alerts:

OC Transpo unveiled on Friday its new announcement system that will give riders both visual and audio alerts about upcoming stops.

The $12 million system will include an interior display showing the bus route number and each upcoming stop.

Leah Jane at The Quixotic Autistic: Travelling while Autistic:

I want to note something about travelling while autistic, especially across international borders. It is not easy. These days, flying is difficult enough for neurotypical travellers, but for those of us who are disabled, it takes on a whole new level of struggle, humiliation, and anxiety. My own experience is negligible, but others go through sheer terror in their effort to get from point A to point B.

Harriet Baskas at USA Today: Travelers with disabilities face obstacles at airports (really? really?):

[…]next month the Open Doors Organization (ODO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will host a conference about universal access in airports. On the agenda: tools, technology and training to help both airports and airlines do a better job of serving travelers with disabilities.

Lastly, a quote from Mhairi McGhee of the Haringey Disability First Consortium:

In a city like London, if you can’t get about easily, safely and cheaply, then no matter how many hearing loops, braille leaflets or ramps there are, you do not have real access to services.

That’s from Disabled ‘can’t use’ half of all bus stops in the Hornsey and Crouch End Journal, or, should I say, the ‘Hornsey’ and Crouch ‘End’ Journal.

Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.

Recommended Reading for 3 September, 2010: Transportation Edition

This edition was Anna’s idea!

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

United States Department of Transportation: AirTran Fined for Violating Rules Protecting Air Travelers with Disabilities.

Of the $500,000 penalty, up to $60,000 may be used to establish a council to help the carrier comply with federal disability rules and hire a manager for disability accommodations. Up to $140,000 may be used to develop and employ an automated wheelchair tracking system at AirTran’s major hub airports within one year that will generate real-time reports of the carrier’s wheelchair assistance performance.

Canada: CBC News: Brain-injured man mistreated on bus: family. (Yes, slightly strange headline.)

After a conversation with the driver of a bus he boarded in Lower Sackville, N.S., on Saturday, Wilcox said he was ordered to the back.

He said the driver then apologized to other passengers, telling them she usually kicks drunks off the bus. When Wilcox tried to explain he was not drunk, no one wanted to listen, he said.

New York City, USA: Transportation Access: Transit Advocates Announce Lawsuit Against MTA.

The lawsuit charges that the service reductions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state law by denying people with disabilities the right to accessible transportation. The plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction requiring the MTA to immediately restore lost service to buses, subways and Access-A-Ride.

United Kingdom: From The Guardian’s Letters section: Travel cuts will leave disabled and older people stranded.

Transport for All is extremely concerned about how these cuts will affect older and disabled Londoners. The threatened cuts of over 7,400 hours of ticket office staffing every week across the London network will have a disastrous impact on the freedom and independence of disabled and older Londoners.

Ashley’s Mom at Pipecleaner Dreams: Suggestions.

Yes, I know, I have written many times in the past about the issues surrounding bus transportation in my school district. Well this post is not going to dwell totally on the negative. Bus services were, for the most part, excellent this summer. They did however start to fall apart this last week of school. And, I have a few suggestions so that doesn’t happen in the future.

Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.