(wnyc.org) Vincentian Andrew Yearwood, the father of six who was deported to the Caribbean despite a cardiologist’s recommendation that he not fly due to a serious cardiac condition, is now awaiting a shipment of the heart medication he needs to survive.
But the package won’t arrive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, until at least Thursday, and his doctor doesn’t know if he can hold out that long.
Yearwood, 53, was picked up on immigration violations in 2018 and spent more than a year in Immigration and Customs Enforcement lock-up at the Bergen County Jail. His attorney says Yearwood’s condition worsened at the jail, in part because a request to see a cardiologist was delayed three months.
A cardiologist asked ICE to delay deporting him because plane travel could put his life at risk, but he was nonetheless flown to St. Vincent on May 22 with just six days of medication.
Yearwood said he got sick on the plane and might have suffered a possible minor heart attack. Once he landed, he was immediately hospitalized, there are no cardiologists in St. Vincent, and Yearwood doesn’t have enough money to pay for basic medical care, according to his attorneys.
Now, his lawyers are asking the courts to intervene and order ICE to bring him back to the U.S. for treatment. They say ICE violated both its own standards and protocols, and Yearwood’s constitutional rights to due process.
A judge has not agreed to have Yearwood sent back, but ICE arranged for the Bergen County Jail medical staff to ship medication to Yearwood because he has already exhausted the six-day supply he was initially deported with. According to a shipment notice, the new medication went out last Friday and isn’t due to arrive on the island until Thursday.
A cardiologist working on Yearwood’s case, Dr. Akshay Pendyal, told the court that the patient “requires urgent evaluation by a team of cardiovascular specialists,” and without medication to control his blood pressure, he is at risk of “worsening heart failure, a recurrent heart attack, an abnormal heart rhythm, and death.”
Yearwood ran a mechanic shop in Brooklyn, doing inspections for the taxi industry, before ICE arrested him in April 2018 on immigration violations. He also had prior criminal convictions.
On May 22 at 1 a.m., Yearwood was roused out of his cell and brought to John F. Kennedy Airport. He says he was not permitted to contact his attorneys until later that morning, shortly before his flight. The timing of the deportation blindsided him and his legal team because Yearwood was scheduled to be evaluated by a cardiologist the following day in a visit to the jail that was approved by ICE.
Just after 6 a.m., his attorneys alerted federal officials via email that Penyal, the cardiologist, warned that it would be hazardous for Yearwood to fly because he could suffer from a serious cardiac event. His flight took off shortly thereafter.
Yearwood suffers from several cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease. He is prescribed 14 medications.
Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, who runs the jail, said he couldn’t comment on a detainee’s health due to privacy laws. He said ICE controls when someone is deported from his jail. A spokeswoman for ICE has not responded to requests for comment.