PIDC detainee pleads for life after issued final deportation order

A Port Isabel Detention Center detainee walks in line with other detainees in a photo from 2017. Photo courtesy of ICE.

By Gaige Davila

A Ugandan man detained in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) is pleading for his life after receiving an imminent deportation order.

Steven, 36, has been detained at Port Isabel Detention Center since December 2018, after presenting himself at the U.S. Port of Entry in Brownsville from Matamoros seeking asylum. Since then, Steven has been attempting to be released from the detention center, with help from his attorneys. The PRESS is withholding his last name by request. 

On June 16, Steven’s motion for stay was denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, after which ICE sent a final order of deportation letter to Steven, already informing the Ugandan government and issuing his travel documents, Steven told the PRESS in a message. 

In the final order of removal, Steven is set to be deported to Uganda in early July, as reported by Erin Sheridan in the “People Live Here” multimedia reporting project.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has confirmed it will adjudicate a motion for a stay filed by Steven’s attorneys, Cathy Potter, one of the attorneys, told the PRESS. In The Fifth Circuit Court, Steven’s attorneys have filed a petition to review new evidence within the BIA case, so as to reopen his appeal. 

A habeas corpus petition filed by Potter is still active in the Southern District Court of Texas, but a Supreme Court ruling on June 25, saying asylum seekers rejected in court can no longer contest the denial, may make the filling moot.

Steven left Uganda after being persecuted for organizing voter registration and human rights advocacy through his ministry, ELOI Ministries, by Uganda’s government. Steven said he’s been tortured severely, suffering two finger amputations, burned with melting plastic and whipped in a “python snake” room. Steven said his brother and uncle have been murdered in retaliation for his organizing, along with his sister being beaten by Ugandan security forces who believed she was hiding Steven. 

Steven said he experienced imprisonment in his home country as well.

I have been in prisons over flimsy and (staged) charges in Uganda, character assassinated over the internet and publication media and so on,” Steven said. “I find it so disturbing for ICE to get in touch with my enemies and side with them against my life.”

A Ugandan official has said once Steven arrives in Uganda, he will be arrested and killed by security officers, the Angry Tias and Abuelas of the RGV said in the same Facebook post. 

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