Updated May 28, 2016
I am profoundly sad to update this article, which was originally published on March 28.
85 South Asian immigrants, most of whom had come to the United State seeking political asylum, were deported on April 3, according to the Guardian.
The Guardian describes a brutal deportation process. According to their report, all 85 asylum seekers were placed in handcuffs, waist chains and ankle chains for the 30 hour flight to Bangladesh. In addition, approximately 15 individuals were placed in “body bags” for resisting. Didar Alam, 29, says that he was placed in a body bag as he wept and begged “Please don’t send me back.” Alam is a member of the Bangladeshi National Party, whose members have been subjected to public executions at the hands of the ruling Awami Party. (Please see original article below.)
To read more about these deportations, here is a link to the disturbing Guardian article. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/27/south-asian-migrants-body-bags-deportation-us
The original article, published prior to this mass deportation, appears below.
#Deported2Death is the hashtag trending among advocates for a group of South Asian migrants, mostly Bangladeshi nationals, who are scheduled for mass deportation on April 4. These individuals are asylum seekers, most of whom fled Bangladesh as a result of a highly polarized political situation in their nation.
What Are They Running Away From?
The political system in Bangladesh is a mess right now. Last year, the ruling Bangladeshi Awami Party hanged members of the opposition Bangladesh National Party, (one of whom had served as a member of parliament for six terms), while Awami supporters handed out candies in the streets to celebrate. More executions are pending. Charges are related to war crimes allegedly committed in the 1971 independence conflict with Pakistan.
But many members of the Bangladeshi National Party, even those who were not even alive during the 1971 conflict, fear for their lives under the current leadership. Many fled in fear. Some arrived in the United States, and applied for asylum.
Why Weren’t They Granted Asylum?
In order to be granted asylee status, you must win a case in Federal Immigration Court.
And asylum cases in the US are a crap shoot. Ask any immigration attorney. The outcome of your asylum case has little to do with the merit of your case, and has everything to do with the judge who hears your case. In Newark, for example, where Federal Immigration Judges hear as many as 100 immigration cases per year, some judges deny asylum 92% of the time, while other judges, hearing the same types of cases in the same region, deny fewer than 30% of the cases. But whoever the judge is, Muslim men have a slimmer chance than most of winning their cases.
Click here to see the denial rates among Federal Immigration Judges over the past five years.
So What is Going on with these Bangladeshi Nationals?
Many of them have been in detention centers for months, or even years. Last fall, many of them were involved in hunger strikes within the detention centers, and were ultimately force fed with feeding tubes.
Last week the news broke that as a result of an agreement between the US State Department and the Awami Bangladeshi government (from which they were fleeing) 169 individuals were slated to be deported. Within days, the numbers swelled, and now over 500 individuals are slated to be deported on April 4.
Advocates are convinced that their deportations will result in their deaths.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Help?
Advocates are asking you to contact Congressional Representative Joseph Crowley, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and who also has a significant Bangladeshi-American constituency in his home district. His Jackson Heights District Office phone number is (718) 779-1400.