Jamaican Immigrant's Case is Unnecessarily Tough

This FoxNews article about a Jamaican man with a stutter highlights clearly why America's immigration laws are flawed and immoral.

Derrick Cotterel was a farm worker who came to the United States from Jamaica, picking citrus in Florida and apples in West Virginia for 10 years, before a pay dispute with a landscaping employer led to his arrest last year on robbery charges.

Cotterel, 42, speaks a Jamaican patois, or Creole, that might alone be difficult for Americans to grasp. But his speech is further compromised by a severe stutter that makes him nearly impossible to understand.

Nor can he read or write. So many of his thoughts remain trapped inside of him.

Cotterel, a brawny man, has supported himself mostly as a farmer and fisherman — jobs that don't require communication skills. In Jamaica, he lived with his brother for a time, until the brother was killed.

"He told me he never gotten government benefits. He has always supported himself," Burch said. "He takes great pride in that."

[The judge] had set bail at $1,500, but Cotterel's friends in Martinsburg, W.Va., have so far scraped together just $900.

And now, there's another hiccup to overcome: Cotterel was recently moved to state custody in West Virginia because he missed a court date in the robbery case while he was incarcerated in York. He has no prior convictions.

According to Shagin, the case stems from an argument that ensued when the landscaper, who was also Cotterel's landlord, came to the apartment and said he wasn't going to pay him.

"You take for granted how valuable the ability to speak is until you don't have it," Shagin said. "It's particularly bad if you don't have it and you're being accused. You're unable to give your side of the story."

Cotterel has now spent 15 months behind bars.

This is a ridiculous injustice!  For one thing, these indefinite detentions of immigrants (much less in prisons with violent offenders) has got to stop.  What good does it do any of us for a non-violent person to be imprisoned with violent offenders?  For another thing, there should be no immigration hearing going on at all, that would've left the man free to deal with his criminal trial.  This man came to this country to work and make a better life for himself, and he should be left alone.   

The criminal trial happened after he immigrated and is being portrayed as a misunderstanding.  If that's indeed the case, it seems like it could be cleared up easily with a court-appointed attorney.  If Mr. Cotterel is found guilty in the criminal case, he should be punished accordingly.  If he's exonerated or if the case is dropped, he should be allowed to go about his private business, free from government intervention.

Comments (0)

Post a Comment