The New York Times follows up on the case of Xiu Ping Jiang, a waitress with no criminal record and a history of attempted suicide who spent 18 months locked away in an immigration jail in Florida. Often in solitary confinement, she sank ever deeper into mental illness, relatives say, not eating for days, or vomiting after meals for fear of being poisoned. With no lawyer to plead for asylum on her behalf, she had been ordered to be deported to her native China, from which her family says she fled in 1995 after being forcibly sterilized at age 20. Too ill to obtain the travel documents needed for the deportation to take place, she was trapped in an immigration limbo.
The Times published an article in May about her ordeal. She is now free on bail, living in Brooklyn with her older sister, Yun, a United States citizen, and receiving the medical and psychiatric help she needs while awaiting a fresh immigration hearing close to home – this time with a lawyer. And her case is being held up as an example of the system's worst and best approaches toward the mentally ill, as advocates press the Obama administration for change.