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Attorneys say immigrant with heart issues was deported after requesting doctor visit
An undocumented immigrant with serious health issues was deported without advance notice this week days after his lawyers requested a cardiologist's visit, his attorneys said.
Lawyers for 53-year-old Andrew Yearwood are asking that a federal judge allow him to return to New York to get treatment, WYNC reported on Friday.
His attorneys had reportedly made arrangements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday to have a cardiologist visit Yearwood at the Bergen County Jail this week.
However, Yearwood was awakened early Wednesday morning and put on a flight to his native country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Caribbean.
"We scrambled to make clear that his life was being threatened by being put on a plane," said one of his attorneys, Gregory Copeland of NSC Community Legal Defense, told the outlet.
U.S. District Judge John Koeltl reportedly held an emergency court hearing by telephone and agreed that Yearwood should not have been removed but said he could not order the plane be turned around.
Yearwood's medical files indicate that he has coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure following a 2008 heart attack, WYNC reported.
He reportedly became sick on the flight and began vomiting. Yearwood required the use of oxygen on the plane and was hospitalized upon landing.
Yearwood told the outlet on Friday afternoon that he was feeling better and may head to a relative's home on the island, but said he hopes to return to the U.S. for treatment. He said there isn't a single cardiologist working on the island.
Sarah Gillman, one of his attorneys, told the outlet that it is "curious that the minute a lawyer sends an email saying Mr. Yearwood would be meeting with doctors, he's all of a sudden taken away in silence, out of sight of everyone ... and brought to the airport."
Yearwood's attorneys also allege he was not provided all of his medication for the trip, however an attorney representing ICE, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Byars, refuted that claim in a letter to court, the outlet reported.
Byars claims that Yearwood was given enough medicine to last for six days.
A spokesperson for ICE declined to comment to WNYC on Yearwood's medical care, citing privacy concerns.
Yearwood, the father of six children who are U.S. citizens, was reportedly detained by ICE last April while on his way to work at a mechanic shop.
He admitted to a marijuana conviction in 1999 and told the outlet that he overstayed his visa. However, it is unclear why his original deportation scheduled for July 26 was moved up without notice.
"The 28 years I was in the country I was paying taxes," Yearwood said. "There's no reason for them to deport me like that."
His lawyers argue that his deportation was moved up because they directly got involved in his case.
"We've been seeing these retaliatory removals in response to our advocacy in the federal courts in the last month," Copeland told the outlet.