Danticat Seeks Investigation, Sees Uncle’s Mistreatment As Emblematic

Robert Birnbaum's Photo of DanticatWriter Edwidge Danticat (whose “Reading Lessons” appears in the current New Yorker) continues to call for an investigation into the treatment of her elderly uncle, Joseph Dantica, a Haitian minister who died in Homeland Security custody in Miami on November 3.

He suffered from severe health problems. And, according to Danticat (whose last name is spelled differently due to a misprint on her father’s birth certificate), as he tried to enter the country, he was taken to Miami’s Krome Detention Facility (not a pretty place, I tell you what), where his medication was confiscated.

Although he apparently had a visa and family ready to receive him, Dantica was held pending an immigration hearing. When he “began vomiting and passed out, . . . He was taken to a hospital where family members were not permitted to see him and died the next day,” according to Danticat.

She argues:

The way my uncle was treated was so emblematic of the way Haitian asylum seekers are treated here. Their stories are not believed, they are immediately detained, sometimes for years, and the majority are deported. . . .

I think there is a strong connection with the way he was treated and the fact he died . . . . They took his medicine and when he was in crisis, they didn’t attend to him.

Photo (c) 2004, Robert Birnbaum.


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