FTCA Administrative Complaint Regarding Woman Who Suffered Stroke While in CBP Custody

FTCA Administrative Complaint against the United States (filed Mar. 12, 2013)

Ms. Takem-aishetu is a 63-year-old woman who has lived in New York for eight years.  She works as the primary caregiver of a 96-year-old disabled widow, supports her orphaned grandson, and always pays her taxes.  She is a devout religious woman who has no criminal record.  In March 2011, Ms. Takem-aishetu was returning home from a cousin’s funeral in Minnesota when her bus made a routine stop in Toledo, Ohio.  There, a Border Patrol (BP) agent boarded the parked bus, a gun visible in his holster, and questioned her about her immigration status. Ms. Takem-aishetu was arrested and placed in a BP vehicle where she was forced to wait for eight hours without food and water.  When she asked to use the bathroom, an agent escorted her at gunpoint and waited outside the open door.

Ms. Takem-aishetu finally was taken to the Sandusky Bay Processing Center close to midnight, where she spent another several hours in questioning and processing, her leg shackled to a bench.  Eventually, she was placed in a small cell with room only to sit.  After repeatedly asking agents to use the bathroom, Ms. Takem-aishetu could wait no longer and urinated on herself.  She was forced to sit all night in her urine-soaked jeans until being transferred to immigration detention at the county jail the next morning.

Ms. Takem-aishetu was extremely embarrassed about her treatment by BP and ICE agents.  She feared their threats to deport her, knowing that she would be abandoning her 96-year-old employer without care and her orphaned grandson without any financial support.  Suffering from intense stress and fear, Ms. Takem-aishetu fell ill while at the jail with nausea, dizziness, and weakness in the left side of her body.  At the hospital, doctors determined that she had suffered an acute stroke.

Ms. Takem-aishetu never had any health problems before her detention.  After an extensive medical workup, her primary care physician determined that she did not exhibit any of the risk factors for a stroke, and that it was directly connected to the tremendous stress of her detention and treatment.  Ms. Takem-aishetu continues to suffer from the lasting effects of the stroke, with near-constant pain, numbness, and partial paralysis on the left side of her body.  She relies on a cane to walk, and her speech is impaired; these changes have severely affected her way of life.  Ms. Takem-aishetu seeks damages for her mistreatment.

The government failed to respond to the administrative complaint within the six-month deadline. Ms. Takem-aishetu decided not to file a federal complaint.

Press:

Counsel: Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic
Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School

Contact: Zsuzsanna Toth l 212. 790. 0411 l toth@yu.edu
Betsy Ginsberg l 347. 683. 2387 l betsy.ginsberg@yu.edu

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