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Mentally Ill Immigrant Goes Missing after Deportation

New America Media, News Report, Viji Sundaram Posted: Jan 31, 2009

Two days after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency deported him to India on Jan. 22, 52-year-old Harvey Sachdev, a schizophrenic of 32 years, went missing from his friends home in New Delhi.

My brothers deportation is likely a death sentence on him, said his sister, Neena, a Virginia resident. He doesnt have any family there, nor does he know anyone there. Our mother is totally distraught. We fear for her life, as well as his.

India is almost a foreign land to Sachdev. He and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a boy of 12. He has never gone back since until he was deported.

A valedictorian of his high school, Sachdev, with the help of a scholarship, attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a bachelors degree in psychology.

It was while in college, that he fell mentally ill, Neena said.

A few years after he graduated, Sachdev planned to legalize his immigration status, like the rest of his family members had years earlier, but on the day he was scheduled to go before immigration officials for his test, he did not feel well and checked himself into a mental institution, according to Neena. He missed other appointments, keeping him from getting his green card.

Sachdevs illness prevented him from being able to hold down a job, but family members chipped in and made sure he lived comfortably, said Neena. He even got married and had a child, now 23. He and his American-born wife have been estranged for many years.

For the last 30 years, Harvey has been shuttling between his home in Virginia and mental hospitals and, for the last two-and-a-half years, he has been in an immigration detention facility.

ICE agents went to his home one day in 2006 and arrested him for parole violations he had failed to register himself as a sex offender every six months.

Sachdev was arrested in the late 1990s for allegedly exposing himself before a young boy in a public restroom. He spent 12 months in jail before he was paroled.

While in immigration detention, his family tried unsuccessfully to have him released through the courts. Last year, they filed an appeal, which is still pending. They have spent more than $40,000 in lawyers fees.

We think what happened to him is cruel and unusual punishment, asserted Dimple Rana of the Boston-based non-profit she founded last year, Deported Diaspora. They deported him while his case was still open.

Indecent exposure, she said, amounted to moral turpitude, a serious crime. Under a 1996 law, every non-citizen sentenced to a year or more in prison is subject to deportation, even if the crime was a petty theft.

Deported Diaspora tries to help deportees with re-integration services in the country they are deported to. The Sachdev family had sought Ranas help when they knew Sachdev was going to be deported.

Sachdevs family members are planning to take turns going to India, hoping to find Sachdev. His mother is scheduled to leave shortly, said Neena.

We know the possibilities of finding him are slim, she said, adding: It will take a miracle for him to live properly there.

Related Articles:

A Letter From Immigration Detention

The Littlest Deportees

Terror Suspect in U.S. Caught in Legal No Man's Land

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