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Devastating Details Emerge in Immigration Detention Deaths, NYT Reports

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This devastating piece appeared on the front page of the New York Times yesterday. It’s a blunt reminder of just how broken our immigration system has become– and that every day we wait to fix it, the stakes get higher and higher. It’s worth reading in full.

Another article published the same day, “Documents Reveal Earlier Immigrant Deaths,” begins:

Over the last two years, the news media and Congress have brought attention to many deaths in the immigration detention system that appear to have involved substandard medical care or abuse. But a trove of documents obtained over recent months by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union sheds light on even more fatalities. […]

One example is the case of Miguel J. Rodriguez Gonzales, 43, a longtime legal resident of California who was detained for immigration violations on Feb. 22, 2006. He had end-stage renal disease, diabetes and chronic heart failure, and was receiving dialysis at a hospital three times a week.

Records show that Mr. Rodriguez fell at least five times during his first 10 days in detention and reported “intense pain all over.” By March he was unable to shower by himself, and “for hygiene issues” he was sent to a disciplinary isolation cell. Soon he had to be taken to the clinic in a wheelchair because he was unable to walk. […]

On April 10, 2006, after two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents returned him to the San Pedro detention center after dialysis, Mr. Rodriguez told a supervisor that the agents had made him stand up from the wheelchair and let him fall to the ground several times, laughing and insisting that he could walk.

“He asked why they were treating him that way,” the supervisor wrote in a report about the allegations. “They picked him up from the ground and harshly shoved him into the transporting vehicle. One used his feet to shove or kick him into the vehicle.”

The piece goes on to present more shadowy details in the deaths of immigrant detainees in federal detention. It cites the lawyer for Hiu Lui Ng, who passed away in April 2008:

“There are tremendous acts of cruelty, and these are not just rogue individuals,” said Joshua Bardavid, a lawyer who represented Mr. Ng. “If there’s a common thread, it’s the system. It really is a systemic problem.”