More on Hiu Lui Ng

August 19, 2008

Ng was swept up by ICE and detained in several jails over the span of about a year. Officials and staff continued to downplay his complaints about his health. 

A lot of mysteries still remain about his death. Why did he have a fractured spine? How does a healthy young man go from that to having cancer and dying within a year?

In the days right before his death, he filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking his release so that he could find adequate medical care. The next day, he was driven in shackles to another ICE facility and told by an immigration official that he would not be released or would be deported if he didn't rescind the petition, according to Bardavid, his lawyer. In his final days, only after a judge's urge, he was sent to a hospital where they determined he had terminal cancer all over his body and a fractured spine. He died within days.

What is so appalling and tragic about this is that he is not a criminal. If you read the backstory to all of this, reported by the New York Times, you will know that the government mailed a court summons to him to a nonexistent address. At the hearing, which he didn't know about or attend, he was ordered deported. Years later, after he married a U.S. citizen and had two U.S.-born kids, he would apply for his green card.

When he went in to what he thought was his final interview to obtain a green card, he was picked up by ICE.

The Democracy Now! piece also includes an interview with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who has introduced legislation requiring ICE to provide medical care to detainees.

There is also a heartbreaking interview with a 9-year-old Iranian from Canada whose plane derouted to Puerto Rico on his way to Canada, when he got picked up by ICE and was thrown into a jail.

The entire segment gives us a better idea of what it is like for immigrants who are thrown into detention. Apparently immigrants are treated way worse than prisoners in the average U.S. prison (and that's really not saying much), even though you could argue technically, those immigrants have not committed a crime.  

Also, we find out that one of the main lobbyists to privatize ICE "detention facilities," most of which seem to be jails, is none other than Philip Perry, the son-in-law of Dick Cheney. They're basically continuing to increase the beds of these jails and filling them up with immigrants. Who benefits? The corporations (oh yeah, and Dick Cheney's family).

As many as 83 immigrants have died in or soon after being in the custody of ICE in the five years the U.S. agency has been around. Ng's is just one of the many tragic stories.  


Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.