HOUSTON, June 7 - Young Zheng's first offense was flying into the United States illegally as a 14-year-old boy with phony papers supplied by Chinese human smugglers known as snakeheads.
But perhaps his biggest blunder, his lawyers say, was complying with immigration rules after he was apprehended and released, rather than fleeing and working to begin paying the $60,000 fee that his father in China had agreed to with the smugglers. Instead, he went to school and became a top student.
He also had the misfortune, his lawyers say, of believing his Department of Homeland Security control officers when they told him he could stop reporting monthly and show up every three months instead. When he checked in three months later, he was arrested and scheduled for deportation for failing to appear earlier, they said.
Young, now 17 and confined in a youth facility here, is the center of a heated court battle over government efforts to deport him as soon as Friday. If he is returned to China, the youth and his lawyers say, he faces torture and death for defying the smugglers. He also has no home, he says, because his father, terrified of the smugglers, has disowned him.
Because he made a vain dash for freedom last March and smashed his head into a wall to avoid deportation, his court papers say, the government is preparing to sedate him to get him aboard the plane...
The Department of Homeland Security, opposing Young's application for amnesty under the United Nations Torture Convention and his request for a stay of removal, has argued in part that Young failed to present convincing proof that he would be tortured by the Chinese government.
"At best," said Jeffrey T. Bubier, a lawyer in the case and assistant chief counsel of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Philadelphia, "he fears a 'wholly private' act of retribution, meted out by smugglers who want money."
Really, they don't give a damn about human life.
Let's stop pretending they do.