Detainees Sue Over Conditions, Care 08/20 06:12
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 organizations that filed
"ICE cannot simply contract with third parties to operate its detention
centers and then wash its hands of the deplorable, unlawful conditions in those
detention centers," 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
An agency official said comprehensive medical care is provided to all
detainees including dental and 24-hour emergency care and studies have shown
about 1 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.
Advocates said they want to see changes in medical treatment and policies
for the immigrants, who are fighting deportation, and the release of immigrants
under alternative programs.
The number of immigrants in detention has grown in recent years. There are
currently an average 55,000 immigrants in detention each day, according to ICE.
One of the plaintiffs, Faour Abdullah Fraihat, has been detained in Adelanto
for more than two years and lost vision in his left eye. While an off-site
doctor recommended surgery in April, immigration authorities didn't provide it
and he was told last month his vision couldn't be restored, according to the
Fraihat, 57, who has back and knee pain, said he was given a wheelchair but
it was taken away after a month. For more than a year, he relied on officers to
bring him food, the suit said.
He said he fears returning to Jordan because he was threatened after
converting to Christianity.
Another detainee at the facility about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast
of Los Angeles said he was placed in segregation for a week after filing a
grievance against an officer, the suit said.
Luis Manuel Delgadillo, a 29-year-old who has lived most of his life in the
United States, was on medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but his
treatment shifted after he was detained in May. Since then, his mental health
has suffered, prompting him to miss two court dates, according to the lawsuit.
"Like any parents, my husband and I suffer with him, and we just want him to
be safe," his mother, Patricia Delgadillo, said in a statement.