Guards threaten the women and throw out their food
Updated: Oct 30
April 23, 2020
(note from Jane): The women in detention have limited access to tablets through which they are able to send messages to family and friends. Because there are so few tablets, the women need to sign up on a sheet and wait their turn. There are frequent disagreements over access, something which the guards seem to exacerbate by favoring some women over others--often, the women who speak English over those who speak Spanish. In this post, I am not using pseudonyms for the guards but rather giving their real names. One significant structural problem with ICE detention is the almost complete lack of transparency and accountability.)
At 7:45 a.m., the official entered. Stenhorn is the official who is in here throughout the day. She leaves at 4 p.m. Well, everything began when she began her turn and begun talking very angrily. She said that there three jobs that had to be done, and no one wanted to do them. She got even more angry and began to talk very loudly in English but nobody wanted to do them, so she said that she was not going to turn on the television or give us the tablets. She also said she would take away all of our privileges. Then she began to open our lockers and began to throw out our cereal, our sweet bread, the food that we cook for lunch when we cannot stand the food they give us. When they give us food I like, I save some of it for the times when I don't like the food, because there is some food that my stomach just can't take. So, the official threw away everything, including one new container of soup, leaving me with nothing. That happened in the morning. At lunch, they gave us boiled potatoes and some raw meet that I could not eat.
Then, Stenhorn and T. Toromino began to check our rooms, here below, and they were very angry. They got to my room, and I was scared to see how they were throwing things. I had an old shirt where I kept the things I needed for the shower--my shampoo, my soap, all the personal things for one I can to bathe myself. They picked it up immediately and took it over to where the officials usually sit. They took out a book and wrote down the number of my room, took out my photo and I don't know what else. They threw away my shampoo and a lotion that I have to wash my hands. My chest began to hurt.
Friday the 24th has arrived. The guard who watches us from midnight until 7:45 a.m. always puts a sheet of paper on the table for us to sign our names to receive a tablet, because there are only five tablets for each guard to distribute. The guard D. Holota saw me coming up to put my name on the sheet, and my friend Helena (a pseudonym) as well, but he would not put the paper out for us to sign. It was 6:25 a.m. and he would not put the paper out. So I went to sit in a chair in front of the table. He said something in English that I didn't understand. Sara (a pseudonym) arrived and said Elisabeth, get out of the way, and the guard laughed, and I said, I'm not leaving because I'm not bothering anyone by sitting here. Then the guard put the paper out for Sara to sign and she took the paper with her so I couldn't sign it, and then passed the paper to another woman who had recently arrived. I said to Sara, what are you doing, I'm here in line. The guard saw what was happening and didn't do anything. He even said to another woman--don't worry, I'll give you a tablet, and they laughed. I said this is discrimination! and I went to my bed.
Then an official, dressed in white, came and called out three names. Well, they don't use our names, they use the numbers of our beds: 190, 376, 199. We went to the official, who called on Sara to translate for us. And we said NO, we don't want Sara to translate. No one here is going to tell us what he is really saying and what we want to say. I said you need to find a translator, and if you don't, we will only talk when our lawyers are present.
Later that day, I was able to see a therapist, and I told him everything that had happened. He told me that this isn't a good situation, but he couldn't help me. He advised me to change my attitude. This bothered me, and I told him, just because I don't have a criminal record, I don't have the right to be treated well? That is to say, me and my friends need to put up with everything they do to us? He also told me to talk to my deportation officer because he has the power to get me out of here, through parole or some other means. He said to tell him everything that has happened to me inside here, the discrimination, the bullying, and that maybe they would let me out.
So the officials have been asking me: are you going to eat, and I told them, that no, I cannot eat right now.
All of this has happened yesterday and today.