Coming on the heels of yesterday's report on the questionable conditions and lack of legal access in a little known immigrant jail in the West Village, the federal government has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle the cases of five Muslim immigrants were among hundreds of noncitizens jailed in Brooklyn for months after 9/11 without charges. According to the Times, the plaintiffs — whose names were cleared but were still deported — accepted the payout after seven years of court cases. A larger suit filed by other detainees is ongoing.
Though he accepted the settlement, a former detainee who was held in a maximum security detention facility for eight months without charges, continues to feel that he was abused and wrongfully imprisoned. “Being held in that place for 249 days — $270,000 is not going to make up for that experience,” said Yasser Ebrahim, who worked as a web designer in Brooklyn before being deported to Egypt.
Attorneys for the detainees — who claim guards "cursed them as terrorists," "twisted their wrists and fingers and stepped on their leg chains so they fell," and slammed them "face first into a wall where an American-flag T-shirt had been taped" — say the settlement is a sign the government has rethought its policy on detaining immigrants. “I believe a settlement of this size is a deterrent to the United States from ever again rounding up innocent noncitizens based only on suspicion about their race and religion,” said lawyer Rachel Meeropol. “These were guys called terrorists and treated as terrorists, shoved against the blood-spattered picture of the American flag and told, you’re never getting out of here alive. And it’s a long way from that to where they are now.”
That said, as a part of the payout, the government "admits no liability or fault under the terms of the settlements."