Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights calls on U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately release Pastor Steven Tendo from the Port Isabel Detention Center where he is at risk of serious and permanent damage to his health, or even death. Pastor Steven fled his home country of Uganda to seek political asylum in the U.S. in December 2018.
Despite being eligible for release on parole with a sponsor ready to provide him with housing and support, Pastor Steven has remained in ICE detention throughout the entirety of his asylum and removal proceedings — over a year and a half. During this prolonged detention Pastor Steven’s health greatly deteriorated. He has not received the medicine or testing necessary to control his diabetes and is now nearly blind and battling a severely weakened immune system as a result. It is inhumane and dangerous to keep Pastor Steven jailed at a facility with unsanitary conditions, inadequate healthcare, and an active COVID-19 outbreak.
In Uganda, Pastor Steven founded and led a ministry organization with the intent to expand access to education, healthcare, and social support -- ideals that Robert F. Kennedy embodied and strove for during his lifetime. Instead of languishing behind bars in a for-profit detention center, Pastor Steven could be free and able to continue working for a more just and peaceful world.
The continued detention of Pastor Steven is unnecessary and, especially in the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, unconscionable. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights urges ICE to release Pastor Steven into the care of his local sponsor so he can safely practice social distancing and receive appropriate medical treatment.