Thursday, May 15, 2008

Support the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008

An action alert from Physicians for Human Rights:
We urge you to write your Senators and Representative today to support the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008.

Shocking exposés this week by the New York Times, Washington Post, and 60 Minutes have confirmed the alarming breakdown in health care for detained asylum seekers and other immigrants in custody of the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), resulting in needless suffering and, in the most tragic cases, avoidable death.

The Detainee Basic Medical Care Act would help to prevent these tragedies by requiring the government to protect the rights and well-being of asylum seekers and others held in immigration prisons throughout the United States.

Please take action now in support of humane treatment and the right to health care of asylum seekers and other immigration detainees....

If you know of currently or previously detained asylum seekers who received inadequate health care in detention, please let us know as soon as you can by emailing Jennie Baldé at
Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein are reporting the story at the Washington Post:
The most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen, according to a Post investigation.

The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers.

Federal officials who oversee immigration detention said last week that they are "committed to ensuring the safety and well-being" of everyone in their custody.

Some 83 detainees have died in, or soon after, custody during the past five years. The deaths are the loudest alarms about a system teetering on collapse.
I once had an asylum detainee as a psychotherapy patient. I can tell you he suffered tremendously from poor health care at the center where he was held: poor access to doctors or medications; misdiagnosis; jailors who saw most ill detainees as complainers at best, or malingerers at worst -- and this patient was lucky, as he did not have a life-threatening illness. Something must be done!

Support PHR's campaign and take action now.

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