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A new report provides insight into what migrant detainees face under ICE. Photo: Getty Images
A new report provides insight into what migrant detainees face under ICE. Photo: Getty Images

House report finds ICE detainees get poor medical care, potential punishment for speaking-up

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A report released Sept. 21 by the Democratic-led House Homeland Security Committee is a result of a year-long investigation, looking into ICE’s shortcomings in regards to ICE’s treatment of migrant detainees.

Detainees under U.S. government custody are getting inadequate health care, and migrants face potential punishment for speaking out, according to the report.

The report says guards threaten to lock detainees in isolation cells as a consequence of speaking up over their adverse condition or making medical requests. According to the committee, about 400 detainees were spoken to when compiling its data.

The report comes after a recent whistleblower complaint by a nurse at an ICE facility in Georgia, which alleged women faced undisclosed hysterectomies under ICE among other cases of medical misconduct, which included concerns over the facility’s handling of the coronavirus.

“Over the past year, Committee staff visited 8 ICE detention facilities and spoke with 400+ migrants in detention,” wrote the House Homeland Security Committee.

“Yesterday, the Committee released its report finding that ICE facilities fail to meet basic standards of care,” it continued.
 

The 23-page report found ICE and its facilities were dismissive about the mental and physical care of migrants in custody. 

"The Committee encountered several staff working at detention facilities that diminished the seriousness of suicide attempts as well as evidence of detainee medical issues going untreated," the document reads.

Recently, ICE has come under increased scrutiny, as it has struggled to contain transmission of COVID-19 within its facilities, one of the issues investigated in the report. 

“The spread of COVID-19 has further highlighted how the failures to meet these standards of care are a matter of life and death,” it reads.

The most recent death to COVID-19 in an ICE facility was a 61-year-old Mexican woman at a Georgia ICE facility, the agency’s eighth confirmed death from the virus, reported the Washington Post. 

If ICE is going to detain people, it has an ethical obligation to provide a healthy environment, at the very least. 

In response to the watchdog report, the agency has said it is committed to ensuring detainee safety and agreed with recommendations for improvement.

However, Monday’s report says the issues persist. It ends with calling on ICE to “establish a process to better identify and correct deficiencies at its detention facilities.”

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