Civil Rights: Newark NJ Customs Officers Allegedly Used Polish Girl, 12, As Bait
08/12/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Newark, NJ—The government of Poland filed a formal protest with Washington after the family of an 12-year-old Polish girl claimed she was detained for 10 hours while U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) officials attempted to lure the girl’s brother, an illegal immigrant, into coming to pick her up. The young girl landed in New Jersey on July 28 and was scheduled to attend a Polish-American summer camp when customs authorities allegedly held her as bait, according to an August 11, 2010 New York Daily News report.
“I sent her there so she could improve her English… She had a valid visa and she was escorted on the flight by a family friend,” explained 12-year-old Ewelina Krzywda’s father, Krzysztof Krzywda.
While there was an issue with the escort’s visa that prompted immigration officials to send him back, a worker from the Poconos-based camp was sent to retrieve Ewelina from the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). However, customs officials detained Ewelina at the Newark Airport and subsequently contacted her brother Marcin Krzywda.
“The first call I got was from somebody named Michelle who assured me they wouldn’t arrest me if I came to pick up Ewelina… I asked her why they didn’t just turn her over to the lady from the summer camp and she insisted only a relative could claim Ewelina,” Marcin Krzywda said. He then gave Customs officers his father’s phone number so they could contact him with regard to the matter.
Ewelina’s brother went on to explain, “They called me three or four more times after that and threatened to send Ewelina to a juvenile detention center in Chicago if I didn’t come get her… They also threatened to send her to Texas and hand her over to a foster family. I kept telling them that they should call my father if they won’t let the lady from the camp take her, but they kept saying only I can pick Ewelina up.”
Marcin Krzywda added, “When they called me, I told them, ‘I’m no fool’… Then I called the [Polish] consulate to tell them what was going on.” The last phone call he answered reportedly came from “a Polish-speaking person who asked me to vouch that Ewelina had a reservation at the summer camp… I did and suddenly Ewelina was allowed to go to the camp.”
Deputy Polish consul Marek Skulimowski stated, “We respect the right of the U.S. to execute immigration laws but detaining minors like this is unacceptable.” The U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection was aware of the family’s claims and was in the process of preparing an official response, according to spokesperson John Saleh.
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