[Pnews] Woman ICE Medical Misconduct Witness Slated for Deportation Is a U.S. Citizen

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 2 15:44:02 EST 2020

Medical Misconduct Witness Slated for Deportation Is a U.S. Citizen, Says
John Washington - November 2, 2020

*Alma Bowman,* a 54-year-old woman in U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement custody, is scheduled for deportation on Monday. For over two
years, Bowman has been held at Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center, the
site of growing
about medical neglect
and coerced gynecological procedures
performed on nearly 60 women. She has been a key witness, for attorneys and
journalists, of a doctor performing the allegedly unnecessary or overly
aggressive procedures.

She is also a U.S. citizen, according to her lawyer and documentation
reviewed by The Intercept.

“I’m just scared,” Bowman told The Intercept about her potential
deportation. “I always had this fear that I’ll lose touch with my family.”

Though she was ordered removed from the country on June 4, ICE only took
action to begin her deportation in the last few weeks — after the public
became aware of allegations of medical misconduct at Irwin. Following the
initiation of deportation proceedings against her, a lawyer finally began
reviewing documents for Bowman’s immigration case and realized that she had
documentation indicating her U.S. citizenship.

On Monday morning, ICE denied a stay of removal for Bowman, potentially
setting up her deportation.

Born in 1966 in the Philippines, to a U.S. citizen father who was serving
in the Navy and a Filipina mother, Bowman moved to the U.S. with her
parents as an adolescent. “I always thought that I was a citizen of the
United States,” Bowman said. She has two U.S. citizen children and is
married to a U.S. citizen, whom she is separated from.

“ICE had enough information that they could’ve looked into the matter and
raised the possibility of her status as a U.S. citizen in court. But that
was never done.”

Bowman said she told both an ICE officer and more than one immigration
judge — four separate judges have presided over her case in the past three
years — about her citizenship. The immigration officials seemed
indifferent. “They were not paying attention,” Bowman said, when asked how
the officials reacted to her claims of citizenship. “They didn’t believe
me, and I got it in my head that maybe I wasn’t.” One ICE officer, she told
The Intercept, questioned whether the man who raised her as his daughter
was actually her biological father. Her birth certificate, which The
Intercept was able to review, names her father, a U.S. citizen. Her
maternal grandfather was also a U.S. citizen.

Without an attorney, Bowman represented herself in immigration court until
this week. In the course of her complex legal and immigration cases, she
asked for asylum and, after it was denied, languished in immigration
detention. After nearly half a year in Atlanta City Detention Center, she
was transferred to Irwin and held there from January 2018 until last week —
more than 30 months — when she was transferred to Arizona in preparation
for her deportation. After attorneys with the Georgia Latino Alliance for
Human Rights, or GLAHR, began representing her last week, they discovered
that Bowman is, in fact, a U.S. citizen. The Intercept was able to review
her records, including birth certificates, marriage contracts, and
immigration forms related to her citizenship.

Prior to 1986, laws regarding citizenship status were governed by the 1952
version of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which stated that to
acquire citizenship for a person born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen
father, they must have been legitimated by their father prior to turning 21
years old.

As Bowman’s parents prepared to bring her to the U.S. in 1977, when Bowman
was 11 years old, her father filled out an immigration form called a
“petition to classify status of alien relative,” which The Intercept
reviewed. The form, which owing to its age is difficult to read, was
submitted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the now-defunct
U.S. immigration agency, at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. Van Huynh,
Bowman’s lawyer from GLAHR, argues that the document legitimates her
paternity under federal law.

Under Georgia state law, her parents’ marriage in 1968 also legitimated
her, Huynh said. (The Intercept reviewed the marriage certificate.)
Moreover, under Philippine law
marriage after birth results in the legitimation of a child.

All of this, Huynh argues, makes it clear that Bowman is a U.S. citizen.
“For 43 years, immigration officials had access to her birth certificate,
listing her father as a U.S. citizen, and her parents’ marriage
certificate, since the documents were submitted when her father filed a
petition for her to immigrate to the United States,” Huynh said. “ICE had
enough information that they could’ve looked into the matter and raised the
possibility of her status as a U.S. citizen in court. But that was never
done.” Huynh added that there’s “no doubt on my part about her U.S.

[image: Alma Bowman with her son at his his graduation from Gray, Georgia’s
Jones County High School, at a ceremony held at Georgia College and State
University Centennial Center in Milledgeville, Georgia, in 2015.]

Alma Bowman with her son at his graduation from Jones County High School,
at a ceremony held at Georgia College and State University Centennial
Center in Milledgeville, Ga., in 2015.

Photo: Courtesy of Bowman’s family

*Bowman grew up* in Georgia and speaks with the state’s characteristic
lilting drawl. She identifies deeply with the state where she raised her
two children, both of whom graduated from the same high school she did. She
was actively involved in her children’s school and enjoys gardening,
reading, and doing arts and crafts.

Bowman has high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and sleep apnea, and was
diagnosed with diabetes while in detention. Among other fears, she’s
worried about accessing the proper treatments and medicine if she’s
returned to the Philippines.

Deportations of U.S. citizens occur much more frequently than commonly
understood. According to Jacqueline Stevens, a professor at Northwestern
University and founder of the Deportation Research Clinic
<https://deportation-research.buffett.northwestern.edu/>, about 1 percent
of all people detained by ICE are U.S. citizens, and about one-half of 1
percent of all people deported from the country are U.S. citizens. That
means thousands, or even tens of thousands, of U.S. citizens are deported

[image: The War on Immigrants]Read Our Complete CoverageThe War on
Immigrants <https://theintercept.com/collections/the-war-on-immigrants/>

One of the immigration judges who presided over Bowman’s claim was William
Cassidy, who previously came under scrutiny for deporting a citizen
<http://stateswithoutnations.blogspot.com/search/label/Mark%20Lyttle>, Mark
Lytle, to Mexico in 2008. A district court judge in 2012 wrote that Cassidy
had “rubber-stamped the false conclusion and unsupported record constructed
by North Carolina ICE and the Georgia ICE Defendants that stated Lyttle was
a citizen of Mexico.” In 2019, Attorney General William Barr appointed
Cassidy to the Board of Immigration Appeals. (Immigration courts are civil
courts operated by the Justice Department, not an independent branch of

Stevens told The Intercept that ICE has “guidelines put in place for
exactly these kinds of cases.” The guidelines state that when “there is
uncertainty about whether the evidence is probative of U.S. citizenship,
ICE should not detain, arrest, or lodge an immigration detainer against the
individual and should cancel any immigration detainer already lodged by
ICE,” according to a 2015 ICE memo
published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

In 2017, Bowman was first taken into custody by ICE after a traffic stop;
she was on parole after serving two years for minor drug possession. Since
being transferred to Irwin in January 2018, Bowman has been trying to call
attention to alleged medical abuses at the facility, which she said she has
been both subjected to and has witnessed. She has also decried the general
conditions of uncleanliness, leaking roofs, moldy bathrooms, favoritism,
and rule-changing.

“These conditions are not safe for anyone to live in whether they are
citizens of the United States or not,” Bowman wrote last week in a letter
to Reps. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Bowman was first seen by Dr. Mahendra Amin — the doctor accused of
unnecessary and overly aggressive gynecological procedures — in May 2018,
after complaining of vaginal pain. In an interview, as well as in her
letter to Johnson and Ocasio-Cortez, Bowman claimed that Amin told her that
it was “all in her imagination.” After she insisted, according to the
interview and letter to Congress, he prescribed her a hormonal cream,
though she never received the medication. Bowman had previously undergone a
hysterectomy in 1999.

After ongoing pain and discomfort, five weeks after being seen by Amin,
Bowman succeeded in getting sent to another doctor, who diagnosed her with
a stage 2 or 3 rectocele, a rectal hernia pressing into her vaginal wall,
and recommended aggressive treatment.

Amin’s lawyer, Scott Grubman, did not respond to a detailed request for
comment on the allegations in this story. In past news reports, including
at The Intercept, Grubman and Amin have denied any wrongdoing and said that
any investigation would clear the doctor. Neither ICE nor the Department of
Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, which is investigating the
allegations of medical misconduct at Irwin, responded to requests for

In the letter she sent to Congress, Bowman also claimed that Irwin sent two
detainees to Amin on September 22, a week after allegations of abuse came
to light.

*Bowman’s transfer* and pending deportation reflect worries among
congressional leaders that ICE may be attempting to deport key witnesses in
the investigation into misconduct by Amin. “As the investigation proceeds,
deportation proceedings against detainee witnesses must be halted,” Johnson
said in a statement to The Intercept last week.

Huynh described Bowman’s testimony about Amin as “critical” to efforts to
raise awareness about allegations of medical misconduct at Irwin. Bowman’s
experience, according to Huynh, provides evidence to back up allegations of
Amin’s “wide range of medical incompetence.”

“Our government should not be deporting U.S. citizens. It should be
protecting them.”

According to attorneys, advocates, and Bowman herself, she has not been
interviewed by any government officials regarding Amin or other medical
abuse and neglect issues in Irwin. Bowman has been in touch, however, with
attorneys and advocates investigating medical abuses in Irwin since March.

Rev. Leann Culbreath, of the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network,
described Bowman as a “central figure, a key community leader within the
dorm” who “knew what was going on with everybody.” Besides being
well-informed of the procedures and alleged abuses taking place in Irwin,
Bowman also thoroughly “documented what she was observing,” Culbreath told
The Intercept.

“She has strong evidence about Amin, around Covid-19 and other medical
neglect issues,” said Priyanka Bhatt, a staff attorney with Project South.
Bhatt also told The Intercept that Bowman was “a big source of information”
for the Office of Inspector General complaint filed on September 14 and
first reported
by The Intercept.

Bowman’s criticisms of medical care in Irwin are not focused only on Amin,
but paint a broader picture of medical neglect and abuse. Bowman was housed
with four women who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and suspected
that there were others who also had been infected but weren’t tested due to
what she claimed were staff shortages.

Though Bowman had been in touch with lawyers and advocates about conditions
in ICE detention, she only met with Van Huynh about her own case for the
first time on October 27. It was only after reviewing her case file last
week that Huynh realized Bowman was a citizen.

Her case also shows the perils of aggressive incarceration practices apart
from immigration detention and deportation. According to Huynh, Bowman
served three years in prison for a forgery charge after paying for
groceries using her boyfriend’s checkbook. After she was released, and
while still on probation, she was picked up and charged with possession of
less than an ounce of methamphetamines and sent back to prison.

Huynh is worried about what Bowman may face in the Philippines, where drug
users have faced prison, assault, and extrajudicial murder in a severe
led by President Rodrigo Duterte. Just last March, Duterte said, “It is my
job to scare people, to intimidate people, and to kill people.” Bowman told
The Intercept, “I’m afraid, I’m just scared.” A typhoon hit the Philippines
this weekend, and Huynh is hoping that it could delay Bowman’s deportation
long enough to convince ICE that she is a citizen.

“Our government should not be deporting U.S. citizens,” said Stevens, the
Northwestern professor. “It should be protecting them.”
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