Comes a time when all illegals must face the journey to an ICE detention centre. The one I was sent to on October 17th 2012, was Irwin County Detention Center which ‘rented’ a few pods to ICE [the DHS immigration enforcement gang].
I arrived around 1.30 am after being woken the previous morning, having to pack up and dress to make sure I got some of my stuff in with me, put in a barred truck with a driver and a guard and hauled to ICE offices in Atlanta, I spent the day in a cell with an interesting Mexican woman who was doing Federal time, and a number of women, mostly wearing a navy uniform, hispanic mostly, and one Indian girl [Patel, as she was known, later got herself released after virtually starving and finally taking a drastic life risking measure – that’s a whole other story]
I was put into a transport truck with all the ‘navy’ girls, and a lot of rather desperate looking males in orange. Most, of them, I later discovered, had been to Atlanta to see the immigration judge. We were hauled for 6 hours, handcuffed.
When you are a prisoner, you find triumph in the smallest rebellions against authority. During the ride, I managed to slip my handcuffs. I wasn’t going anywhere or planning a break out, but I felt a short sense of freedom, of ‘up yours’ to the authority that had put me here.
October in Georgia, especially as you move into Southern Georgia can be warm. The day they took me it was hot and steamy outside, but inside the bus was A/C cold. The men, sitting in the back, demanded we put on the AC. The fat female deputy gave in to their demands. It was freezing and I was glad I’d put on all my sweat stuff, vests etc.. because it was not easy getting out all my stuff.. stuff is very important in jail.
Sitting next to me was a Brazilian woman who looked ancient but was younger than me. She’d been captured in the summer wearing a t-shirt and flip flops. Now, being moved to the final destination before deportation, after serving some time in a county jail, as I did, she sat shivering in the van dressed only in the clothes she’d been brought in with.
We ended up in a cell together. I speak minimal Portuguese. She spoke no English. The only person in that particular ‘pod’ who spoke English was a hardened woman who had been in for a year.. and helped me to the minimum. I was in a place where I couldn’t express my feelings..
I lay there during count one night feeling total despair. I got out of bed and started cutting myself. I laugh at that. I was such a coward that I only cut my hair.. slicing it with my razor. Yes we were allowed a razor but it had to be accounted for. I started to shave my eyebrows and cut myself accidentally. My cell mate saw blood running down my face and started screaming as if I were a madwoman. I don’t blame her.
The officers came and took me out. Once again, perhaps my Englishness saved me. I was taken in a wheelchair to medical and on the way through some miracle, they let me call home. That saved me. ALL I wanted was to speak to the only person in the world I truly felt of as family. My man. I managed to convince them that I was not a nutter but had had an episode brought on by isolation. The isolation was about not being able to communicate.
One night I was so sad, I lay in my bunk weeping during count [count takes place twice a day, and we are locked in our cells, the TV is turned off and they let us out 45 mins later. Count was my favorite time of day!] And then I heard angels.
Sweet voices from the cell below’ Miss Sunny we love you’. When count was over Brenda, the young Hispanic girl who had called out to me in that time of despair, appeared in my cell doorway. In her hand was a drawing. It had hearts and butterflies and all over it were written the words ‘Te amo, Miss Sunny’. I was touched beyond measure.
Everyone has a story and using my broken Spanish or a translator or signs.. I engaged, experiencing and observing the human interactions..