I'm currently being detained by ICE.
I was taken into custody by ICE on June 5th, 2019 in Raleigh, NC
I have always been in the country legally under my F1 student visa, OPT status and through my Green card. I was currently in the process of updating my temporary 2 year green card and my case was being handled by an immigration attorney. The USCIS had a previous attorney that I worked with listed as 'attorney on record', and so updates and requests for additional paperwork related to my Family Green card petition was never received by my current attorney.
Due to this USCIS clerical error, my attorney and I never received USCIS' requests for additional information and I was put into removal proceedings in absentia
I'm one of the 54,000 immigrants
currently being detained by ICE
around the country.
On June 5th 2019 I was taken into custody by ICE/DHS at my job in Raleigh, NC . I have been transferred to the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, GA, near Atlanta. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Stewart Detention Center is one of the worst detention centers in the United States.
I have always been in the country legally under my F1 visa, OPT status and through my LPR(Green card). I came to the United States to attend college, and I graduated with my B.A in Communications & Marketing from East Carolina University in 2010. I was currently in the process of updating my temporary 2 year green card and my case was being handled by an immigration attorney. From the information that I have gathered, it appears that the USCIS never updated my 'attorney on record', and so updates and requests for additional paperwork related to my Family Green card petition were never received by my current attorney. Due to this USCIS clerical error, my attorney and I never received USCIS' requests for additional information. Unbeknownst to us, USCIS set a a Green card case review court date and requested that I appear in front of an Immigration judge. Due to my absence, a removal order was issued in absentia. According to an Immigration attorney that I recently spoke with, this scenario - where USCIS fails to notify an immigrant about their case/ or due to a clerical error, is sadly a very frequent occurrence. It often leads to detention and deportation, which is the threat I am currently facing. My current and previous attorneys have submitted an affidavit to the courts attesting to the fact that they BOTH never received updates or requests for additional information from USCIS and have petitioned for a stay of removal.
Unlike defendants in the criminal courts, I do not have a constitutional right to legal counsel. I can be detained indefinitely
Inhumane Detention Conditions
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Attorney General has issued a directive to clear the nation’s backlog of 714,067 immigration court cases by using case-closing quotas for judges, an approach that threatens to compromise the due process rights of immigrants as it generates more deportations than fair decisions.
The facility where I am currently being held has some of the highest rates of deportation and civil rights abuses. 93.8% of all detainees brought to the Stewart facility will be deported or voluntarily depart the country after being forced to withstand detentions of up to one year.
"Hungry, Scared and Sick: Inside the Migrant
Detention Center in Clint, TX" - The New York Times
"A ticking time bomb" - the Atlanta Journal
I am a brother, a husband
an uncle..I am someone's son...
Below: This is now my every day reality. I'm being detained under maximum security prison conditions, and I've been placed under quarantine due to an outbreak of chickenpox and measles in my detention unit. I was recently placed in solitary confinement for five days. I have been denied phone privileges on several occasions. I do not have the opportunity to speak to my current attorney on a regular basis.
Action Script & Next Steps
***I post pretty extensive updates on our GoFundMe page, so do check out the update page if you'd like additional information about any of these updates.***
December 12, 2019. Trevor has now been detained for 6 months. This Dec 12 Master Court hearing date was continued from October 15th. The hope is that Trevor's bond hearing date will occur prior to this December 12 MC hearing or on the same date. If the bond hearing date occurs before December 12 and Trevor gets a bond, this court date will 'evaporate.'
December 2, 2019. New Bond motion was filed. We should have a new bond hearing date within the next 7-10 days.
November 18, 2019. We retained replaced our previous counsel with a new attorney. Our current attorney is Ms. Sarah Owings. As mentioned, our previous attorney withdrew Trevor's bond motion. Trevor is not subject to mandatory detention (you're subject to mandatory detention if you have convictions for certain types of crimes) so Trevor is eligible for a bond hearing. Because his bond hearing was withdrawn, it technically hasn't been 'used up', so he still has the opportunity for another bond hearing. We begin gathering community letters of support, proof of family ties to the US and financial sponsor documentation...information that we were never asked to provide as part of our first bond motion.
October 18, 2019. Bond hearing held. Bond motion withdrawn in court by attorney due to lack of preparation/review of client files. Attorney begins preparation of 'cancellation of removal', which we have been told will provide Trevor with a new green card before his next Master Court date of December 12, 2019. Cancellation of removal is a process by which you ask a judge to cancel your removal process due to an 'unusual and exceptional hardship'. The exceptional hardship that Trevor is experiencing is due to his mother in law's illness (she has lupus). We asked that folks send Trevor inspirational books to the center directly via Amazon. On November 9th, we closed this request as detainees are considered to be 'fire hazards' if they have more than one box of reading material. Trevor currently has 3 boxes of books :) Thank You for your support!
October 15, 2019. General Calendar (known as a 'Master Court') hearing held. This hearing was continued by the attorney from September 12th to October 15th.
September 6, 2019. We were just informed that Trevor will have a hearing in front of Judge Trimble at the Stewart Detention Center on Tuesday September 10th. My younger brother Jamil and I will attend the hearing to provide support and speak to his attorney, Marty Rosenbluth regarding next steps. Marty is one of the only attorneys located near the detention center and is known within the immigration attorney community as "one of the best." You can read more about Marty's work here
August 22, 2019. Excellent news - Trevor's motion to have his case reopened was APPROVED on August 21, 2019. Before we start dancing naked in the streets - he will unfortunately remain at the detention center until he receives a BOND HEARING. See below for more information on how this will now be expected to proceed. Trevor will now file a bond motion to request bond from Stewart. I have already contacted the new attorney that will handle the bond motions. Bond hearings are held by judges at the detention center, so this portion of the proceedings now moves from the Charlotte Immigration Court to the judges at the detention center. But, let's take a breath and relish this WONDERFUL NEWS which I know was due to YOUR CALLS AND ACTION. Trevor's attorney received word from the Charlotte court via the 'rumor mill' that Trevor's case was quickly reassigned on the morning of Aug 21, 2019 from Judge Couch's desk to another judge. A decision was rendered within HOURS of that reassignment. I know that this movement was due to EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YALL taking the time to make a very uncomfortable phone call and I thank you for that. Thank you for your action - it has moved mountains. I'll update everyone soon and again: Trevor is still detained but we have cleared the first step in undoing this mess.
August 19, 2019 **Action Script** CALLS NO LONGER NEEDED. SEE AUG 22 UPDATE. This past weekend I had the chance to visit Trevor at the Stewart Detention center. I really do not have the words to describe what it looks like seeing a family member dressed in a prison jumpsuit, being led in by guards. I’ve watched videos about the center and tried to prepare myself but it was just so overwhelming seeing him being brought in to see us in such a dehumanizing and criminal manner. So, what can we do about this? We are tired of waiting for this to play out through the courts. While I understand that from a legal standpoint we have to wait for a judge to review his case, there’s nothing stopping us from letting the courts know that we are watching and waiting. Here’s what I would like you to help us with: If you have the time, it would be great if you could give the Charlotte Immigration court a call and just touch base with the court’s administrative clerk. to let him know that you’re concerned about the length of time that they are taking to process Trevor's case. I've provided contact info and a script that you can use here
My family intends to secure additional legal counsel for me. My detention attorney has petitioned the NC Immigration courts to re-open my case. That petition was filed on June 25 2019. It can take up to 3 months for a judge to review my case and decide whether the administrative errors warrants my case being reopened. If my case is reopened, I can then ask a bond judge at the Stewart Center for bond. [Case reopened on August 21, 2019]
Bond will allow me to leave the detention center and return to my home in NC while my case is reopened and being re-worked. I will need to secure legal representation for bond hearings at the Stewart Detention Center. It can take weeks to see a bond judge and it is not guaranteed that I will be given a bond release. Immigration bonds are usually between $10,000 - $50,000
If I am not given a bond by the bond court, I will be expected to remain at Stewart until my entire immigration case is re-worked. That could potentially mean that I could remain detained for close to a year.
My family has set up a GoFundMe to assist with these unexpected legal costs. Thank you beyond measure to each and every one of you that has taken the time to get the word out regarding my detention and/or assisted my family financially with this cause. Please remember that I'm one of 54,000 detainees around the United States. There are thousands of families around the U.S who are currently experiencing the pain of family separation.
Getting The Word Out!
Thank you for helping to get the word out about my story. My story has been covered by several news organizations and talk shows including the Clay Cane Show, BET, NewsOne, Trinidad Guardian and TeleSur news
detained by ICE
even though he is in country legally.
August 20, 2019
Sirius XM Radio
August 20, 2019
Trinidadian Man in Country detained by ICE.
August 20, 2019
(Live News Broadcast)
July 26, 2019
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian
July 17, 2019
Let's Work Together
My family and I have started this campaign to raise awareness about the cruel and inhumane detention conditions that immigrants - even those who have come here legally - are subjected to. From what I have gathered, it is possible that I could potentially remain detained for at least another 6 months in a maximum security detention prison before I even receive a bond hearing. I may also be deported and separated from my U. S family which includes my wife, who is a U.S citizen, my sister (also a U.S citizen), brother and mother (both Legal Permanent Residents)
I'm unable to receive visitors or phonecalls due to my detention and quarantine. Please use this contact form if you'd like to get in touch with me. It is monitored and updated by my sister, Solange. Solange is a PhD student and staff member at the University of Colorado Boulder.
If you would like to send a letter and/or mail to me, I can be reached:
Trevor (firstname) James (lastname) - 1005 (last 4 of Alien number)
146 CCA Road,
P.O. Box 248
Lumpkin, GA 31815