DHS Inspector General Issues Recommendation on Reporting Procedures of Immigrant Detainee Deaths
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau should promptly report all deaths of immigrants held at federal detention centers in the U.S. to the Department of Homeland Security, as well as to state authorities where required by law, according to recommendations in a report released Tuesday by the DHS Office of Inspector General, the New York Times reports. The 55-page report follows a "special review" of the deaths of two immigrant detainees. Although both detainees died of pre-existing medical conditions, the review found that the cases highlighted larger problems with oversight and medical care at immigration detention centers, including the failure to recognize or address serious health care deficiencies at the centers.
The review, conducted by the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee at the Department of Justice, involved the deaths of a 60-year-old South Korean woman with cancer in September 2006 at the Regional Correctional Center in Albuquerque, N.M., and a 30-year-old Ecuadorean woman with a severe brain infection caused by a parasite in April 2006 at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul, Minn. According to the review, both women received inadequate medical treatment. In addition, a government investigation of the center in Albuquerque found detainees waited for up to one month for medical attention due to a nurse shortage.
The review also found that 11 of the 20 immigrant detainees with chronic health conditions were scheduled for regular visits at chronic care clinics and that centers were not adhering to requirements that they notify DOJ and DHS about detainee deaths.
The inspector general's report called on ICE and the detention trustee to pool information about the detention centers and recommended improved medical screening and education about the parasite. Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for ICE, said that "as a result of the report," the agency has developed guidelines for all deaths to be reported to the appropriate state and federal authorities (Bernstein, New York Times, 7/3).