Immigrant advocates blast medical care at detention facilities

Calling the medical care provided to detained migrants ''poor, and sometimes appalling,'' immigrant advocates Tuesday called on the U.S. government to halt the jailing of nondangerous migrants, to dramatically improve care to those who are jailed and to employ better oversight of medical care at all detention centers.

Advocates with both the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center and Human Rights Watch released detailed reports Tuesday morning on the provision of medical care at U.S. migrant detention centers and more than 300 county jails that routinely incarcerate migrants whom the government wishes to deport.

The Human Rights Watch report deals primarily with the plight of women in detention, who, the report says, often receive substandard care for pregnancies, breast cancer and even routine gynecological matters. Women often have trouble just getting sanitary napkins, advocates said.

''Unfortunately, oversight of [Customs and Immigration Enforcement] detentions conditions, including detainee medical care, is sorely lacking,'' said the FIAC report, titled Dying for Decent Care: Bad Medicine in Immigration Custody. ``In such an oversight vacuum, ICE tolerates a culture of cruelty and indifference to human suffering.

``Detainees routinely report being treated as criminals, being accused of faking illnesses and having painful symptoms ignored. They also face retaliation for demanding better medical treatment or complaining about the medical abuse of fellow detainees.''

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