Arizona Women Immigrant Detainee Health Report Needs More Research, Editorial Says
The "cases described in a report [last] week by the Southwest Institute for Research on Women" are "heart-rending," but the "shallow nature of the research leaves much to be desired," a Tucson Citizen editorial states (Tucson Citizen, 1/16). The report found that women held in three of Arizona's five immigrant detention facilities receive inadequate medical care.
For the report, third-year law students interviewed 42 people, including 21 women who were or had once been a detainee in the state. Two of the detainees were family members of the researchers and 19 were lawyers or social workers. The report focused on issues such as failing to recognize the mental health needs of the detainee, family separation, inadequate access to telephones and legal materials, and the penal conditions, such as shackling of women who are not being held for criminal offenses (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 1/14).
According to the editorial, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said that the interviews represent 0.0003% of the more than 72,000 immigrants who were detained in Arizona before being deported in fiscal year 2008. "While there is no reason to question the veracity of the complaints about the women's treatment, the shallow nature of the research leaves much to be desired," the editorial says.
The editorial adds, "If the detainees are, indeed, being subjected to substandard treatment ... then these issues deserve thorough scrutiny," but "merely scratching the surface of this situation, then delivering blistering attacks to the media about 'these horror stories,' as they were described, only serves to further polarize the two sides."
According to the Citizen, ICE "has responsibilities that its staff is required to meet, and those include providing adequate medical care. If those guidelines aren't being met, it should be documented in a carefully researched and thoroughly scientific report that details the system's shortcomings so that positive change can be mandated" (Tucson Citizen, 1/16).