He fled to the United States to save his life, but because of ICE he lost his freedom

A detention center in San Diego, Calif., in this June 9, 2017, file photo.

© Copyright (c) 2022 Telemundo.
A detention center in San Diego, Calif., in this June 9, 2017, file photo.

By Diego Courchay

In his country they threatened him with death and he managed to flee, but it is in the United States, where he arrived seeking asylum, where his life has become hell. Ansly Damus has been locked up for a year and four months, the last twelve months without being able to leave, confined to a room without windows.

“I haven’t breathed fresh air or felt the sun on my face, and I never know if it’s hot or cold outside, if the sun is out, if the seasons are changing,” Damus said, As reported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Damus arrived from his native Haiti at the border in Calexico, Texas, fleeing persecution by an armed group. There he turned himself in to the authorities and asked for asylum. He passed the necessary tests and an immigration judge granted it, twice. Both times the US government appealed his claim, and kept him in detention.

The Damus case is part of the lawsuit the ACLU is filing against the government of the United States, considering that it illegally imprisons immigrants seeking asylum, and violates immigration laws.

A 2009 directive, promoted by the then president, Barack Obama, instructed ICE to grant, in certain cases, a humanitarian parole, allowing asylum seekers to be released, under strict conditions. Damus has not been granted that freedom.

The ACLU’s lawsuit alleges that cases like hers violate the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits a person from being deprived of their liberty without due process. It takes a valid reason to keep someone behind bars. Those who suffer from this policy, the ACLU alleges, are fleeing persecution, torture and death.

It all started for Damus while teaching ethics classes in Grand-Rivière-du-Nord, Haiti. During a seminar, he dared to criticize a local politician. Then an armed group came for him. He was on his way home when he was attacked, beaten and his motorcycle set on fire. Ten days later he left his country to save his life.

That was 16 months ago. His life is still stopped.

By Diego Courchay

Leave a Comment