I haven’t been around for a while, because for the last three weeks, I have been wading through a governmental cesspool of apathy, bureaucracy, and red tape.
Some of you may have noticed the absence of Rick Giles from this forum for the last month or so. He is not on vacation; he has not given up, or left in a huff. He is in jail, and has been since the 26th or 27th of September. He has been in prison, without arrest, without trial, without legal recourse or appeal, for almost a month. And why? What heinous crime, you might ask, warrants being thrown into jail with no rights, no information, and no idea how long he’ll be incarcerated? Well, the combined crimes of not being a US citizen and misreading the date on his tourist visa.
Rick was asking directions to the bus station, as pedestrians aren’t allowed to cross the border into Canada, on the 26th of last month. Instead of helping, the policeman took his ID, checked his visa, and found that instead of expiring on the 27th, as Rick believed, it expired on the 20th. He was taken into custody, and has been there ever since.
The INS, which is supposed to notify the New Zealand embassy whenever a NZ citizen is arrested, did not. His social worker, whom he requested get the address and phone number of the NZ consulate, got him the contact information for the embassy in New Zealand. If he hadn’t written my phone number on his arm during the few moments he had alone with his stuff, nobody would have any idea where he is. He used his one phone-call to call me, and I have harassed, begged, and bluffed my way to getting his address, inmate number, and all the information I can get, which is woefully little.
I have made contact with the NZ consulate in Chicago, and the Embassy in Washington DC. I informed them that one of their citizens had been summarily tossed into prison for the smallest offense imaginable. You’ll be glad to know that they are using their full diplomatic might on his behalf. They are making a file. They faxed him a letter informing him of his rights, which amount to nothing. They are very friendly and courteous, and try to be helpful. However, unless the US starts to torture Rick, there’s nothing they can do. Apparently the US government can hold him as long as they want, for whatever reason (or lack thereof) they choose.
This is a plea, dear SOLOists, from me. If anyone has any experience with dealing with the INS, or with the US Justice system… if anyone knows anything or anyone who can help, or even give advice, please contact me. I have done everything I can think of, and he’s still there, no court date, no rights, and no expectation of release. I can write letters to him, and send him books, writing materials, and stamps. However, I don’t even know where to begin to get him free.