Houston Community News >> Chinese Mother Wins Asylum

9/7/2007 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A Chinese woman who miscarried twins after federal authorities hustled her into a van and took her to an airport to deport her will be allowed to stay in the United States, an immigration judge has ruled.

Zhenxing Jiang, 33, who was in the country illegally since 1995, suffered a miscarriage on Feb. 7, 2006, after reporting for an appointment with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Philadelphia. Her case sparked demonstrations by immigrant advocacy groups in New York and Philadelphia and made headlines in China.

During a hearing Tuesday in New York, U.S. Immigration Court Judge Barbara A. Nelson granted Jiang's request for political asylum based on China's one-child policy. Jiang and her husband have two sons.

The ruling means she now has permanent legal immigrant status, her attorney, Richard Bortnick, told The Associated Press.

"We're pleased with the government's decision, and we believe it's the correct decision," he said Friday.

Jiang, who emigrated from Fujian province in southeastern China, ran a restaurant in Philadelphia for 10 years with her husband. She was 13 weeks pregnant with twins when she arrived at the downtown immigration office for what she believed was a routine appointment.

As her husband and sons, then 5 and 7 years old, waited in the lobby, she was put in a van and driven to Kennedy Airport in New York to be immediately deported.

Before she was to board a flight to China, she complained of abdominal pain and was taken to a hospital, where doctors discovered she had had a miscarriage.

She later told family members and advocates that immigration agents treated her roughly, refused her food and water and initially ignored her pleas for medical attention.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials denied the allegations and insisted that agents, after learning she was pregnant, allowed her to travel unrestrained and offered her food, water and rest room stops on the trip to New York.

ICE spokesman Marc Raimondi, noting that the agency's responsibilities include carrying out the orders of immigration judges, said Friday that it would have no comment.

Jiang told The Philadelphia Inquirer for a story Friday: "I feel happy, very excited. I don't need to hide now."

Helen Gym of Asian Americans United, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group, said the ruling overjoyed her. But she stressed that many concerns remain about U.S. immigration policy, from separation of families and treatment of those in custody to what she said was secrecy and a lack of accountability for federal immigration officials.

"The tragedy that happened to Mrs. Jiang was a real rallying cry for people to say, 'This cannot happen in the United States,'" Gym said. "It really raised awareness and it galvanized people, not only from the Asian-American community, but from people of all different communities."

Jiang could have been deported anytime after 2002, when she exhausted her appeals on the denial of her application for political asylum. Bortnick said she had routinely reported to immigration authorities in Philadelphia before the attempted deportation.

The political asylum petition of her husband, Tian Xiao Zhang, 36, falls under the jurisdiction of Philadelphia's immigration courts and remains pending under appeal, Bortnick said.

The couple did not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached for comment. An attempt by the attorney to locate them for an interview was not immediately successful Friday.

Contributed by AP.