By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor
Saidah Mohammed, an 18-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, hasn’t seen her boyfriend, Jaun Pierre, for over a year. He’s being detained while he awaits deportation to his native Jamaica, an island he hasn’t visited since his parents brought him to the U.S., settling in Brooklyn some 10 years ago.
Jaun, 19, has spent the past 11 months in immigration detention. Before that he spent months detained on a minor charge in New York City’s Rikers Island prison. It was while he was a prisoner at Rikers that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents caught Jaun. His lawyer advised him to plead guilty to charges stemming from a fight he was allegedly involved in without informing him that such a plea would set grounds for deportation. Now proceedings are underway to return Jaun to Jamaica, away from his parents, siblings, friends and Saidah. (*In response to a reader’s comment, this paragraph was edited for clarity.)
Saidah told her boyfriend’s story through tears at a press conference Tuesday in New York where advocates and religious groups launched a new campaign to end the presence of ICE at the city’s jails.
Advocates called on New York City’s government to pass legislation that would preclude ICE from accessing detainees’ place of birth information prior to conviction. A bill drafted by the groups and sponsored by Council Member Eric Gioia will be introduced in the City Council next week.