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Rama Carty: Finally Free of ICE

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Rama Carty’s long journey through ICE’s broken detention system was documented in our March 19th issue. When the story came out, things were still looking bleak for Carty a legal resident of the United States.

He was out of immigrant detention, after 20 months,  but he was still wearing an ankle monitor and living under restrictive parole conditions. He was also stuck in a Brownsville hotel room for a month while he fought to clear his name in federal court.

Two detention guards from the Pt. Isabel Detention Center where Carty had been held for nine months had accused Carty of assault, which I wrote about in Point of no Return:

“On the second day of the Amnesty investigators’ visit, Carty was preparing for his interview with them when two guards told him he was being transferred to Louisiana. Carty says he tried to get to the phone to notify Amnesty, but was beaten by the guards. “They made an example of me,” he says. “They sent a very clear message that this is what will happen if you do something like setting up a meeting with Amnesty International.

Carty was transferred that day. The next month he was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of “assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating or interfering with” the two Port Isabel guards “in the performance of their official duties.”

At first the guards had alleged that Carty cut one of them on the arm and other on the hand with a disposable razor, which Carty had been shaving with when they told him he was being shipped to Louisiana. Later, their story changed, according to the Brownsville Herald, and it became about whether he had interfered with the guards doing their duty – a weak argument at best.

“We are not alleging that Mr. Carty assaulted the officers,” argued the guards’ lawyer. “We are asking that you focus on the other acts in the statute.”

The jury had to unanimously agree there was enough evidence to prove without a doubt that Carty had intentionally committed any of the actions listed in the suit.

In the end the jury could not come to a conclusion and so there was a mistrial. For the past few weeks, Carty has been waiting to see whether the government would order a retrial.

Today, Carty found out that the judge signed an order to dismiss.  He can finally cut off the ankle monitor and not be subjected to at-home detention.

“It’s really good news and I’ve been calling family and friends to let them know, “ he says.

Carty said he’s happy to finally be free, but that there was still a lot of work to be done for friends still in detention or who had already been deported.

He said he plans on working more closely with the Edinburg-based Southwest Worker’s Union which has been advocating for immigrants at the Port Isabel Detention Center. Carty says the union has created a new model for assisting detainees, which he’d like to expand to other areas of the country.

The model involves helping detainees look for assistance, he said, and providing support near the detention facility as well as serving as a conduit between detainees and their family members which more than likely reside in another state.

“With very little resources they’ve been amazingly effective,” he says.

Carty plans to advocate for the rights of thousands of immigrants who are currently behind bars – many of them legal residents who have committed misdemeanors or other minor offenses.

Earlier this month, he spoke at a press conference at Harvard’s JFK School of Public Policy before Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security gave a speech on immigration.

“It’s good to know that my ordeal is over, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he says.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.