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Immigration Officials Accused of Providing Faulty Medical Care to Immigrant Detainees

First Posted: May 13, 2016 02:00 PM EDT
Immigrant Rights Advocates Protest At Elizabeth Detention Center

Photo : John Moore/Getty Images

A pair of immigrant rights groups has filed a formal complaint against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charging that as many as 60 detainees at the Hudson County Correctional Facility have been denied proper medical care.

Filed by the Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and First Friends of NJ NY groups, the complaint requests that DHS look into conditions at the federally contracted institution, which is described as one of the top three detention facilities with the most human and civil rights complaints.

Overall Number of Medical Grievances Filed Tops 100

Over the last two years, the Hudson facility reportedly received medical grievances from as many as 121 detainees held at the facility by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Of equal concern, critics charge authorities at the facility "only took corrective action in 2.48 [percent] of these complaints, begging the question what role did ICE play to ensure that these complaints were fully addressed."

The complaint noted an additional 560 people were also taken to outside hospital treatments, 184 of which were hospitalized due to medical emergencies.

Data Shows at Least Eight Have Died While in ICE Custody

Issues of inadequate medical care have longed dogged ICE-operated immigrant facilities, with eight people dying from inadequate medical care while in custody over a two-year period beginning in 2010.

At Hudson, in one recent instance Nelson De Jesus Fernandez was hospitalized after officials at the facility failed to give him the blood thinning medication he needed to control his Behcet Disease, causing the Dominican Republic native to suffer a case of internal bleeding.

In another case, a detainee was denied ongoing care despite being a cancer survivor. Another individual was denied both physical therapy and additional surgery for a broken leg for no other reason than "the injury occurred prior to ICE custody."

Reports are many of the ICE facilities continue to receive passing ratings despite the U.S. Office of Detention Oversight finding several of them in default in terms of meeting all proper medical care standards.

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