Immigration Detention Center Update: ICE Agent Shares 'Humanitarian Mission' But Immigrant Rights' Groups Offer Different Accounts
Hundreds of undocumented immigrant women and children are in detention facilities across the U.S., and providing for the medical needs of the individuals may be a demanding task for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. One ICE agent has been credited with saving a little girl's life.
According to ICE, Homeland Security investigations Special Agent Erwin Fejeran provided medical attention to an unnamed immigrant girl who suffered a seizure at the Family Residential Facility in Artesia, New Mexico. He kept the girl's airway clear, while fellow HSI agent Siave Iafeta helped transport the toddler to the dispensary for further medical treatment. The child survived.
The ICE report does not detail when the incident occurred but noted Fejeran departed the Artesia facility in late August. Before leaving Artesia, Fejeran provided a statement before he left, "It was good to see her walking around and playing with the other children. She appeared to be doing fine."
According to ICE, its agents are a responsible for "perimeter security, controlling vehicle access and speed, ensuring children are safe when outside, checking credentials of people entering the facility, watching contractors to insure they leave nothing dangerous on the facility. They conduct safety patrols to ensure gates, fences and the grounds are free of hazards."
As of Sept. 11, ICE disclosed 506 adults and children are in custody at the Artesia facility with over approximately 140 ICE agents on assignment.
Despite the "humanitarian mission" report from ICE, immigrant rights groups have reported on the inhuman treatment at Artesia. Organizations such as the National Immigration Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigrant Justice Center and the Women's Refugee Commission have chronicled the situation at Artesia. As Latin Post reported, representatives of the aforementioned national organization said the detained immigrants in Artesia are given "limited" access to legal counsel, minimal privacy, malnutrition and staffers "don't have experience with children and families."
NILC staff attorney Melissa Keaney told Latin Post that ICE's latest report underscores how inhuman their policies are of locking up families and children.
"It makes women and children completely dependent of ICE officials being responsive to the medical needs that they have, and we are still aware of many cases where that doesn't happen where either these children are not getting the medical attention that they need in the time that they need it," Keaney said.
"I think it's ICE trying to brag about this one case where the child could have potentially died and luckily there happened to be an ICE official there at that moment, but I think there's plenty of other cases where that's not what's happening and that the medical attention is not there when it's needed, and all of this really is evidence of the fact that this is a really inhuman policy to have these women and children locked up in this way."
In late August, the NILC, ACLU, American Immigration Council and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild sued the U.S. government for the mishandling of the detained Artesia women and children's legal due process. According to Keaney, the lawsuit is still in litigation, and the defendants have received the complaints and are awaiting their response.
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