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Report links deaths in immigration facilities to poor medical care
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Report links deaths in immigration facilities to poor medical care

Insufficient medical care contributed to more than half the deaths reported by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) between December 2015 and April 2017, according to a report [HRW website] issued on Wednesday by a collaboration of advocacy groups.

The 72-page report analyzes 15 “Detainee Death Reviews” ICE released from December 2015 through April 2017, finding that “eight of the 15 public death reviews show that inadequate medical care contributed or led to the person’s death.” The experts found evidence of inferior and dangerous practices including “unreasonable delays, poor practitioner and nursing care, and botched emergency response.”

Among the cases reviewed, one case involved the suicide of a person with mental disabilities who was improperly put in isolation, as well as a person who was not given adequate care or concern after suffering three seizures.

The report claims the reviews illustrate that the same types of healthcare and oversight failures point to a systemic deficit in immigration detention facility health care and urges for action.

“The lapses occur in both publicly and privately run facilities, and are not being addressed by existing oversight and monitoring systems…We believe these deficits warrant immediate attention and action by Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and state and local governments that have authority over the facilities.”

The urgency of reform further correlates to the increased number of immigrants in detention centers. In 1994, approximately 6,800 people were held in immigration custody on any day, whereas today, the daily average is nearly 40,500 people. Further, “the Trump administration has asked Congress to allocate US$2.7 billion for Fiscal Year 2019 to lock up a daily average of 52,000 immigrants in immigration detention facilities, a record number representing nearly 30 percent expansion over the previous year.”

The report was published by Human Rights Watch, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Detention Watch Network and the American Civil Liberties Union.