Monday, October 2, 2006

'Please Call Everyone, Before She Dies In That Hell Hole'

Yesterday morning, I wrote an item about Bella Maryanovsky, a legal resident of the USA for the past 30 years, who has been arrested and is being held without charge in a Florida prison, apparently for the grievous offense of walking into an immigration office to renew her green card papers.

Last night I found out that the story has taken a turn for the worse: I got a message from a friend (Bella's cousin), saying:
They moved her to Krome last night. Google "Krome". Please call everyone, before she dies in that hell hole.
What could I do but follow instructions? I did a bit of research, and it didn't take me long to find some really hellacious stuff. Here's a short sample:
The immigrant goes to the overcrowded and degrading ‘Krome Processing Centre’ ... some kind of “concentration camp” located behind treacherous snake-ridden swamps, alligator-infested moats, miles of barbed wire, under the watch of armed guards and countless security cameras ...

They say that places like Krome are not prisons. However, you get there with handcuffs, if you are lucky only your hands but I heard people who was brought there wearing one of those chains that bind you hands and feet together, which some call ‘shackles’, similar to those worn by African slaves brought to work on American plantations, generations ago.
In Krome, I was sharing a dormitory with a large number of other people from all over the world, a multi-toilets bathroom not separated by walls or doors, so while you are brushing your teeth, other people may be sitting on the toilets close to you, some more showering, and a long line of people waiting for the next available toilet or sink or shower, all in the same room. You better stop thinking about hygiene and privacy or you will drive yourself crazy. There are several cameras in the dormitory observing you 24 hours, and two officers every eight hours sitting there, and you only go out on recreation one hour or so a day under surveillance of a number of officers, and that’s if doesn’t rain. Still they tell you that you are lucky to be there and not in a “real” prison.
The temperature in Krome’s dormitories is kept to 68/70 degrees, the officers wear a jacket, the detainee a short sleeve “shirt” and he is prohibited to get into the bed for warmth during the day.
There's a lot more but surely this is enough to give you the idea.

Why am I telling you this? Because I need your help. Can you spend a few minutes -- make a few phone calls, or send a few emails, on behalf of my friend's cousin?

It's not just for her. Apparently she is far from alone. According to RAW STORY, the officer who arrested Bella Maryanovsky told her attorney:
“We got orders to arrest everybody.”
And last weekend The Miami Herald reported that Krome is suddenly extremely crowded.

So don't just do it for Bella Maryanovsky. Do it for all the legal US residents who are being illegally detained. After all, if you won't speak up for them, who will speak up for you?

Who can you contact? Here are some good places to start. But don't be afraid to be creative.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Office of the Chief Counsel
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
333 S. Miami Avenue, Suite 200
Miami, Florida 33130

Office of Detention and Removal
Field Office Director, Miami
7880 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33138
Phone: 305-762-3622

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Toll-free at (888) 671-4091 or (407) 872-7161.
Senator Nelson has special lines for life-threatening problems (and this is one!): 407-872-7161 or 888-671-4091

The Miami Herald
One Herald Plaza
Miami, FL 33132
Phone: 305-350-2111 or 1-800-HERALD5 (1-800-437-2535)
Or contact them through their web page.

The Sun Sentinel
Send an email to the Editor, Earl Mauker and ask him to cover this story, and/or contact The Help Team and ask for their assistance.

Contact Members of Congress, especially those in Florida (such as Robert Wexler and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or find contact info for your Senator or Representative here.)

Human Rights Organizations, such as ACLU: Here's the ACLU Florida web page. And here are some ways that you can contact the people who might be able to help:

Executive Director: Howard Simon
4500 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 340
Miami, FL 33137
Phone: 786-363-2700
Fax: 305-576-1106

Northwest Florida Office:
ACLU Northwest Florida
PO Box 12723
Pensacola, Florida 32591-2723
Phone: 850-429-9128

Legislative Office:
Larry Helm Spalding
Legislative Staff Counsel
ACLU 314 West Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301-1608
Phone: 850-425-1050
Fax: 850-425-5097

West Central Florida Office:
P.O. Box 18245
Tampa, FL 33679-8245
Phone: 813-254-0925

Major Media Outlets
There's plenty of good contact information here.
I thank you for your assistance. My friend and her cousin will thank you too.

And please remember: If you take action on behalf of others, you'll feel better about yourself.