A Congressional Oversight Committee Found That ICE Detainees Died After Receiving Poor Medical Care

“While the medical examiner ruled the cause of death ‘undetermined,’ the complete lack of medical leadership, supervision and care that this detainee was exposed to is simply astonishing,” the report states.

The House Oversight Committee has found that ICE detainees died after receiving inadequate medical care and that jail staff “falsified records to cover up” issues, according to a report released on Thursday.

Committee staffers visited several for-profit detention centers during the course of their investigation and reviewed 60,000 pages of records related to the care of immigrants. The report also frequently cited in its findings a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News that revealed a whistleblower’s complaint alleging that care at several facilities overseen by ICE was so dire, it resulted in two preventable surgeries, including an 8-year-old boy who had to have part of his forehead removed, and contributed to four deaths.

The allegations in the whistleblower memo are still being investigated by Congress, according to the report released Thursday.

“The Committee’s investigation shines a critical new light on the failures of the Administration’s immigration detention system and the deaths of immigrants in custody,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the committee. “This staff report and the documents the Committee obtained explain how the Administration and its private prison contractors have let known problems fester into a full-blown crisis — a crisis that has become far worse during the coronavirus pandemic.”

ICE has come under fire in recent years for issues related to medical care provided within its detention centers. The agency’s detention system relies on a variety of methods to provide medical care. In some facilities, ICE provides it directly; in others, it has a few ICE employees assist private or public contractors; and in many, it oversees care provided by a contractor.

The committee staff focused much of its efforts on immigrants in for-profit detention facilities and the deaths of immigrant detainees.

Committee staffers found that Huy Chi Tran, a 47-year-old man who died in June 2018 at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona — operated by private contractor CoreCivic — had been placed in solitary confinement.

“CoreCivic detention staff were supposed to check on Mr. Tran every 15 minutes, but the detention officer on duty left Mr. Tran unsupervised for 51 minutes just before Mr. Tran’s cardiac arrest that led to his death,” the report found, citing an internal ICE document. “Investigators found that the officer falsified observation logs to hide the fact that he had failed to conduct welfare checks over that 51-minute period.

The report cited the whistleblower memo obtained by BuzzFeed News that stated that “ICE health officials were ‘informed of multiple concerns regarding the care provided at the facility, particularly the facility’s psychiatrist misdiagnosing, failing to treat detainees appropriately, and the lack of readily available emergency medications.’”

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Hamed Aleaziz