Monday, July 2, 2007

Deportation Hearing Scheduled For Bella Maryanovsky

From Larisa Alexandrovna comes an update on the situation of her cousin, Bella Maryanovsky, who was arrested last September without cause and held for more than a month without charge, after walking into an immigration office in order to renew her Green Card papers.

Jennifer Van Burgen reported in September for Raw Story:
Questions are being raised about the arrest, detention, and treatment of a long-term Ukrainian legal resident alien in Florida.

Bella Maryanovsky, a thirty-year legal resident of the United States, was arrested last week on Tuesday, September 19, when she entered immigration offices for a routine update of her green card papers. It appears she was arrested under a new immigration program called "Operation Return to Sender."

According to Michael Chertoff in a June 2006 press release, "Operation Return to Sender is another example of a new and tough interior enforcement strategy that seeks to catch and deport criminal aliens, increase worksite enforcement, and crack down hard on the criminal infrastructure that perpetuates illegal immigration."

Sedikov claims he has left 70 messages on the Maryanovsky case in five days, and has received no return call from ICE officials. His current aim is to have her transferred to a location that would allow her to be brought before a judge.

Maryanovsky claims that she is currently being held in a jail cell with an accused murderer. Last week she was in a cell with five other people and only two beds, so she slept on a "urine-laden cement floor."

To make matters more disheartening, Maryanovsky takes medication for heart arrhythmia and high blood pressure. She confided to her family and friends that prison personnel mockingly refused to give her medication, telling her, "When you have a heart attack, then we will help you."

One friend, Lauren, who wished to keep her last name private, said that she has visited Maryanovsky twice, and her ankles and extremities are swelling. "[She] can go into heart failure," Lauren told RAW STORY. According to family members, her blood pressure hit 220/110, and the family obtained a doctor" letter to present to immigration authorities, but she was still apparently not being given her medication.

Maryanovsky is scheduled soon to be transferred to Krome Detention Center, outside Miami, according to Sedikov. Two years ago, Krome garnered much press attention when an 81-year old Haitian Baptist minister, Joseph Dantica, died while being detained there after seeking asylum. He fell ill during his hearing, after, like Maryanovsky, requesting medication for high blood pressure. Officials contend that he died of pancreatitis and deny responsibility for his death."

If you were reading this space back then, you may remember some of the other details; for those who are interested, the posts I wrote at the time are archived here.

Now for the news: Larisa says a deportation hearing for Bella was scheduled to be held this morning.

Bella Maryanovsky has been a legal, Green-Carded, tax-paying resident of the United States for 30 years, and -- despite spending a month in detention before being released on bail -- she has not been charged with any crime, nor accused of any other offense that would explain her incarceration. And now, for no apparent reason, she may be in danger of being deported.

Larisa fills in a bit more of the context:
Bella is by no means the only victim of Operation Return to Sender and some of the women with whom she was held are still locked up without being charged and without yet getting a day in court. One woman was being held while her kids were taken into foster care. Can you imagine? In a country where Constitutional rights are the law of the land, people are being grabbed off the street and held without representation and the public sees nothing and hears nothing.

My cousin was missing for two days before we found out where she was. She was grabbed in an office, arrested, chained face down to the floor of a van, and disappeared for two days before anyone knew what had happened to her. And it would be another month before we could get her out after paying bail for a no-crime arrest, and now nine months later watch her being dragged in front of a judge to determine if she has to go back to a country from which she was a political refugee over 30 years ago. By the way, did I mention that she is a legal, tax paying, resident of the United States? Remember too, that I am a Putin critic. Do we want to send my family member back anywhere near Putin? Anyway, tomorrow we will finally know. Tonight I am worried.
If you can spare a kind thought -- or a prayer -- for Bella and Larisa and their family, it will certainly be appreciated.