The Scientific Indian

Brother, I’m Dying

An article in NY Times about an immigrant who has lived half his life in the US dies in custody due to systemic negligence and apathy. This is not a one off case, if you are tempted to dismiss it.

Mr. Ng’s death follows a succession of cases that have drawn Congressional scrutiny to complaints of inadequate medical care, human rights violations and a lack of oversight in immigration detention, a rapidly growing network of publicly and privately run jails where the government held more than 300,000 people in the last year while deciding whether to deport them.

Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m dying is a memoir you want to read, if you are unaware of immigrant’s issues after 911. Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-born American author, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner. She testified last year before the U.S. Congress on Immigration. It is a powerful testimony that I hope you would read.

I write today not in my own name, but in the name–and stead–of a loved one who died while in the custody of Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, and the Krome Detention Center in Miami. His name was Joseph Nosius Dantica and he was 81 years old.

He was the patriarch, the head, of our family. He was a father of two and grandfather of fifteen, an uncle to nearly two dozen of us, a brother, a friend, and even, after having survived throat cancer, which took away his voice, a minister to a small flock in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

I am deeply saddened. This is a country I left in 2006 with a heavy heart, with the heart of one who has to leave a good friend. America was for me a companion who showed possibilities I never dreamt of.

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

-Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus.

Has America forgotten that it is still the land that Emma sang about….