New evidence has emerged of what Human Rights Watch says in a new report is dangerously subpar medical care in federal immigration detention at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to increase its use. The report was written with Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a group seeking to end immigration detention. The report discloses systemic failures, such as unreasonable delays in care and unqualified medical staff, that the groups predict are likely to expose a record number of people to dangerous conditions under the Trump administration’s ramped-up deportation and detention plans, says Human Rights Watch. The group’s Grace Meng charged that “people in immigration detention died needlessly under the Obama administration, even with its attempts at reform.”
The report is based on independent medical experts’ analyses of records from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s investigations into 18 deaths in detention from 2012 to 2015, and other medical records from ten privately and publicly operated facilities across the nation. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 90 people who are or were detained, as well as family members, attorneys, immigration advocates, and correctional health experts. The experts found many incidents of substandard and dangerous medical care, including what the group called “failure to follow up on symptoms that required attention; medical personnel apparently practicing beyond the scope of their licenses and expertise; severely inadequate mental health care; the misuse of solitary confinement for people with mental health conditions; and sluggish emergency responses.” Experts agreed that subpar care contributed to seven of the 18 deaths.