Florida Group To Release Report on Immigrant Detainee Medical Care
The Florida Immigration Advocacy Center on Tuesday plans to release a report highlighting concerns about medical care provided to immigrants who Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center, said, "There are systemic problems in medical care throughout the entire immigration detention system."
Ninety detainees have died in ICE custody in the last four years. During a House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing last week, the special adviser to the Secretary of Homeland Security said the medical care provided to many of those who died did not appear to meet ICE standards (Perez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/17). Alicia Puente Cackley, director of health care for the Government Accountability Office, said that a report the office recently released found variations in medical care provided at ICE facilities and the lack of a standardized system for maintenance of health records at the facilities. Last year, a Washington Post series examined the lack of medical care for some immigrants detained at ICE facilities (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/6).
In December 2008, ICE revised its medical care standards. Congress also has ordered the agency to spend $2 million this year for an independent, comprehensive review of its medical care.
Homer Venter, an attending physician for New York-based Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, said that "mental health is the most lacking in the whole spectrum of health care for immigrant detainees." He noted that immigrants smuggled into the U.S. and asylum seekers often suffer from post-traumatic stress because of the experiences they encountered to get here.
Nicole Navas, a spokesperson for ICE, said when an immigrant is detained he or she receives a full medical exam within two weeks, and if at any point mental health issues arise, detainees receive additional tests and medical attention as needed (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/17).