Hiu Lui Ng was born in China and came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1992 with his family when he was 17 years old. Known to friends, family and associates by his Americanized first name “Jason”, Ng, graduated from high school in Long Island City, New York, then took technical training at a community college and entered the workforce as a Microsoft Certified Engineer. Ng was married in 2001 to an American citizen, starting his own family and had won a contract providing computer support to a company operating from the Empire State Building.
According to Susan Thomas who worked at the company in the Empire State Building and who knew Jason Ng:
Everyone who met him was quite fond of Jason — a sweet fellow with an easy smile, who would immediately jump to anyone’s assistance, anytime and who was very smart and capable at his job…
People who knew him personally, or who have come to know who he was could reasonably draw a conclusion that Jason Ng was a kind, productive, contributing member of our society.
As reported by Nina Bernstein in the New York Times Ng was caught up in the maze of the United States’ immigration system during the entire sixteen year period of his residency in the U.S.:
Born in China, he entered the United States legally on a tourist visa. Mr. Ng stayed on after it expired and applied for political asylum. He was granted a work permit while his application was pending, and though asylum was eventually denied, immigration authorities did not seek his deportation for many years…
In 2001, a notice ordering him to appear in immigration court was mistakenly sent to a nonexistent address, records show. When Mr. Ng did not show up at the hearing, the judge ordered him deported. By then, however, he was getting married, and on a separate track, his wife petitioned Citizenship and Immigration Services for a green card for him — a process that took more than five years. Heeding bad legal advice, the couple showed up for his green card interview on July 19, 2007, only to find enforcement agents waiting to arrest Mr. Ng on the old deportation order.
Once placed in immigration detention in July of 2007, Ng never regained his freedom. He was incarcerated in county jail facilities in Massachusetts and Vermont, relatively small facitities with few staff and no onsite medical personnel that contracted with the United States Marshalls Service. For a large part of the time that Ng was held in detention by the United States government it was at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, a maximum security private prison in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Wyatt is a contractor providing services to the U.S. Marshalls Serve, and touts itself on its web site as:
The Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility was the first publicly owned/privately operated adult secure detention facility developed for use by the USMS in the Northeast. ..
The average length of stay for most detainees is approximately 97 days, however, some stay for more than a year and therefore a full-service custody and control program is provided to ensure the daily health and well being of all detainees.
Routine and special transportation services are available to ensure court appearances; delivery to other jurisdictions; transportation to outside hospitals and clinics; and scheduled airlifts.
In April of this year Ng began complaining of severe back pain but received little treatment or accommodation from his jailers. His physical condition deteriorated to such a degree that by July he could not stand or walk, yet he was denied access to a wheelchair by those supervising his detention. The consensus opinion of those supervising his detention, was that Ng was in essence faking his symptoms. The most that medical personnel at Wyatt did for Ng was prescribe pain killing medication and muscle relaxants for him, but they required him to leave his cell and walk to a despensary to obtain them.
As reported in the New York Times article things only got worse for Ng, unable to walk on his own power he was then denied access to pain medication, and even denied access to his attorney:
But his condition continued to deteriorate. Once a robust man who stood nearly six feet and weighed 200 pounds, his relatives said, Mr. Ng looked like a shrunken and jaundiced 80-year-old.
“He said, ‘I told the nursing department, I’m in pain, but they don’t believe me,’ ” his sister recalled. “ ‘They tell me, stop faking.’ ”
Soon, according to court papers, he had to rely on other detainees to help him reach the toilet, bring him food and call his family; he no longer received painkillers, because he could not stand in line to collect them. On July 26, Andy Wong, a lawyer associated with Mr. Cox, came to see the detainee, but had to leave without talking to him, he said, because Mr. Ng was too weak to walk to the visiting area, and a wheelchair was denied.
On July 29th of this year, Ng’s attorneys filed a habeus corpus petition in federal court on his behalf, on July 30th Ng was placed in shackles by Wyatt guards and dragged to a vehicle and transported to an immigration office in Hartford, Connecticut, where according to the New YorkTimes article:
On July 30, according to an affidavit by Mr. Wong, he was contacted by Larry Smith, a deportation officer in Hartford, who told him on a speakerphone, with Mr. Ng present, that he wanted to resolve the case, either by deporting Mr. Ng, or “releasing him to the streets.” Officer Smith said that no exam by an outside doctor would be allowed, and that Mr. Ng would not be given a wheelchair.
Mr. Ng told his lawyer he was ready to give up, the affidavit said, “because he could no longer withstand the suffering inside the facility,” but Officer Smith insisted that Mr. Ng would first have to withdraw all his appeals.
On July 31, the judge hearing the habeus corpus petition did not rule on the petition, but did recognize that Ng needed immediate medical attention and ordered that appropriate medical care be administered. On August 1 Ng was taken to a hospital where it was determined that he had a fractured spine, and his internal organs were riddled with cancer. Ng died in the hospital five days later, one day after his 32nd birthday, leaving a widow and two sons, three and one years old.
At a minimum Jason Ng’s treatment by those responsible for his detention was negligent homicide, although it seems a case could also be made that Ng’s pain, suffering and ultimate death were exacerbated by torture, facilitated by government contractors and Larry Smith, the deportation officer.
Jason Ng was not the first innocent person to lose his life while in U.S. immigration detention, and it is quite possible he will not be the last, but the fact that this has happened should be a wake up call to all of us that there is something fundamentally wrong, that in a country founded on the principals of freedom and liberty, we have permitted government functionaries, and their surrogate contractors from the world of commerce, to play “God” with any persons’ lives. We have all been shamed by this incident, not only should we shed tears of grief for Jason Ng and his family, we should shed tears of grief that we have allowed those who administer our laws and protect us to bring our society down to the depths of depraved indifference.
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