Dec 14, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Report: Internal ICE memo details allegations of medical neglect

In this image, a CBP officer stands in front of a room of detained migrants

Adult men detained in a standing room only cell at U.S. Border Patrol McAllen Station in June 2019 in McAllen, Texas. Photo: Office of Inspector General/Department of Homeland Security via Getty Images

Seventeen complaints of neglecting the medical needs of detained immigrants are detailed in a March 20 letter to top ICE leadership from Homeland Security's officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, BuzzFeed reports.

The impact: Four detainees' deaths, referenced in an internal memo from an agency whistleblower obtained by BuzzFeed News, are linked to allegations of inadequate medical treatment and unaddressed concerns over detained migrants' physical or mental health.

Details: The memo says the agency's inspector general received its first complaint in April 2018, which claims that detainees were subjected to "forcible medication injections as a means of behavior control" and "misdiagnosis of medical and mental health conditions," among other accusations.

  • One detainee allegedly required surgery after lacerating his own penis following deteriorating symptoms of psychosis — which were not treated by a psychiatrist, despite several requests for treatment from ICE health officials.
  • Medical staff allegedly failed to treat opioid, alcohol and benzodiazepines withdrawal in three different detainees. All detainees later required hospital care.
  • Medical care for a deceased detainee was described as "grossly negligent" in one complaint, and an ICE Health Service Corps' report on another deceased detainee was said to be "very misleading."

What they're saying: ICE health leadership "failed to take appropriate action" in response to 10 of the complaints after policy violations were made clear, the agency's civil liberties office writes.

Where it stands: The memo, dated May 2019, states that an investigation into the complaints will take place.

Go deeper: Detained migrants say they want to eat, shower, brush their teeth

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