The True Immigration Crisis: Detention Centers
Since 2017, the Trump Administration has enacted several controversial policies to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. To shift focus away from his weak economic and fiscal plans, President Trump is focusing his 2020 reelection campaign on the so-called “immigration crisis.” During his campaign kickoff event last June, the president motivated anxious voters by promising to deport 11 million immigrants and increase the number of for-profit detention centers scattered throughout the country.
Recently, these detention centers have been the focus of negative media attention, and for a good reason. Last July, reporters joined Vice President Pence in touring the migrant detention center in McAllen, Texas. The Washington Post reported that nearly 400 men were crammed in cages without food, water, or mats to lay on. The men were starving and hadn’t bathed or brushed their teeth in weeks. Trump, of course, countered firsthand accounts by tweeting, “Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions.”
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines after she and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus visited the CBP station in El Paso and the Border Patrol facility in Clint. Representative Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about her experience and claimed to observe patterns of “systemic cruelty” and
“psychological warfare.” The women and children in these facilities are living in unsanitary, crowded, and inhumane living conditions. For example, the Representative accused Border Patrol officers of failing to provide women with running water and instructing them to drink out of toilets. Outside the facility, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters, “This was them knowing a congressional visit was coming. This was CBP on their best behavior. Telling people to drink out of the toilet.”
There is another issue that needs to be addressed as well: Migrants in these facilities are being denied wheelchairs and canes, life-saving medications, including insulin, and isolated away from their family members.
Immigration Advocates File a Lawsuit
On August 19, 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and Disability Rights Advocates filed a sweeping class-action lawsuit against the Trump Administration. The 200-page complaint alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security are deliberately and systematically denying medical care to 55,000 detainees. In fact, ICE is still working with private medical providers that have been the subject of countless lawsuits and accusations regarding medical negligence.
The lawsuit lists the following examples of general negligence and malpractice:
- Detainees with medical and mental health conditions are being denied medical care and forced into solitary confinement.
- Staffers refuse to provide wheelchairs, canes, and life-saving medications to migrants with disabilities.
- A plaintiff with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia was denied medication and psychiatric assistance; he missed two court dates because he was placed on suicide watch.
- Four migrants have died at the Stewart detention center because the staffers are too overwhelmed to provide medical aid.
- Detainees with diabetes do not have access to insulin shots.
- The overcrowded facilities are rife with infectious diseases, including mumps and chickenpox.
- A plaintiff with a brain parasite didn’t receive treatment for over a year.
- One detainee has lived with a torn rotator cuff for three years.
- A migrant lost vision in one eye because staffers failed to provide timely medical care.
The purpose of this lawsuit isn’t to recover monetary damages, but to ask the court to ensure that ICE properly monitors and provides effective healthcare options to detainees. ICE claims to spend $250 million on healthcare services each year, but the Office of Inspector General discovered 14,000 health and safety “deficiencies” after inspecting multiple facilities. Per this report, “These deficiencies include those that jeopardize the safety and rights of detainees, such as failing to notify ICE about sexual assaults. Despite these deficiencies, ICE only imposed financial penalties twice.”
According to Renuka Rayasam, a reporter for POLITICO, “problems have been exacerbated by the Trump Administration’s focus on boosting the number of migrants in detention. That population has grown more than 60 percent over the past two years, without additional staff or resources for health care.” Another problem, Rayasam adds, is that President Trump reversed the Obama-era guidance that released sick and pregnant migrants from detention centers.
Rely on Knowledgeable, Experienced & Compassionate Representation
Contact the immigration attorneys at Guerra Sáenz, PL if you or a loved one has been arrested and detained by ICE officials. Our client-driven legal team – which includes a Board Certified Specialist in Immigration Law – can represent your interests in a variety of immigration matters, including family immigration and deportation defense.
Call Guerra Sáenz, PL today at (888) 936-3228 schedule a confidential consultation with our legal team.