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Detained immigrants in US sue over conditions, medical care

Jamaica Gleaner 2019-08-19 01:33:00
In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Immigrants held in U.S. detention facilities filed a lawsuit Monday decrying what they called shoddy medical care and a failure by authorities to provide accommodations for disabilities.

In the suit filed by disability and civil rights advocates in U.S. District Court, immigrants said they’re placed in isolation as punishment and denied recommended medical treatment and surgery.

Some said they’ve been denied wheelchairs and a deaf detainee who communicates in American Sign Language said he has not been provided an interpreter.

The problems harm disabled immigrants and threaten anyone in one of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s more than 50,000 detention beds who winds up getting sick or isolated from other detainees, said Monica Porter, staff attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, one of the organisations that filed the suit.

“ICE cannot simply contract with third parties to operate its detention centres and then wash its hands of the deplorable, unlawful conditions in those detention centres,” said Tim Fox, co-executive director of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center.

ICE, which largely contracts with private companies and law enforcement agencies for detention space, declined to comment specifically about the lawsuit.

An agency official said comprehensive medical care is provided to all detainees including dental and 24-hour emergency care and studies have shown about one percent of detainees are held in segregated housing at a given time.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of 15 immigrants from countries including Sudan and Mexico and nonprofits seeks to represent immigrant detainees across the country.

The suit cites problems at eight facilities including a privately-run center in Adelanto California, and Teller County Jail in Colorado.

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