An Expired Tourist Visa Leads to a Death Sentence at an ICE Detention Facility: The Story of Boubacar Bah

February 28, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ News

Boubacar Bah, father, husband, and  a good man in general. Being a provider for a family in a country where work is scant, Boubacar decided to legally migrate to USA so he could work and send money to his family in Guinea. He applied to a tourist visa  and it was granted for him. Boubacar then went on his way to New York City were he landed a job as a tailor.


In 1998 Boubacar Bah entered US under a tourist visa. After his visa expired, he stayed illegally and continued to work as a tailor for 8 years.  Boubacar and his roommate regularly worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week to provide for their families and themselves.


After 8 years of working and being seperated from his family, he became homesick and longed to see his wife and kid. He heard of a special green card program that would allow him to leave the country and return without any issue. He applied and was granted permission to travel outside of the country while his paperwork was still in processing.


He finally was able to travel back to his home and see his two kids and his two wives. Being a man of his word, he even stopped to visit the family of his roommate who was in NYC. A good man and a true friend! After a 3 month visit, it was time to go back home and start working again in his tailor position. However, when he arrived, he walked into a huge legal issue.


Apparently, the company who he hired to take care of his immigration paperwork proved to be incompetent. While he was away in Africa, his case was denied and he was not informed. When he arrived at the airport US gave him two options:

(1)  Turn around and go home

(2) or appeal the decision and sit in detention while they hear his case.


Boubacar decided to hire an attorney to take care of the matter while he sat in a CCA Dentition Center in Elizabeth, NJ.  CCA, or Corrections Corporation of America, is a private company who makes contacts with local, city, state and federal governments to house their inmates.

An immigrant detainee died in custody under mysterious circumstances. Now, recently obtained video and documents show that federal immigration authorities withheld information about a dying man.

Quote from Rob Harris of New York Time

Unfortunately, Boubacar never got to live the American Dream, instead, he died a violent, painful, slow death while in ICE custody because of an expired visa. The story first broke ground in New York Times.


“The documents show how officials—some still in key positions—used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse,” The New York Times reported

While noone is certain on what happened while in detention, after some investigation and pouring over official reports, a story began to take shape. Here is some information from Wikipedia on this case:

Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea, was left in an isolation cell for more than 13 hours after falling and suffering a head fracture before an ambulance was called. His family was not notified for five days of his injury.[31] A video shows Bah in the medical unit, before medical personnel sent him to the isolation cell. In the tape, his hands are handcuffed behind his back, he is face down, and he calls out repeatedly in his native language, Fulani: “Help, they are killing me!” Telephone and email records show that ten agency managers based in Newark and Washington discussed how to avoid the cost of his care and unwanted media attention. They considered sending Bah back to Guinea and reviewing his canceled work permit to see if it would be possible to get Medicaid or disability benefits. Eventually, they decided to release him to cousins in New York who objected that they had no way to care for Bah; however, days before this release was planned, Bah died

(see page here)


Boubacar was only in detention 9 months. He had the option of signing deportation papers and letting USA buy him a ticket back home. But he was confident that he would be back out on the street of NYC, living the “American Dream”.


May his kind soul rest in peace.


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