ICE Detainees With High-Risk Medical Conditions Fought For Months To Be Released

Josmith, a 25-year-old Haitian asylum-seeker detained by ICE, struggled to breathe due to his asthma and feared catching COVID-19 in the detention center. An injunction issued by a federal judge in 2020 allowed ICE detainees with high-risk medical conditions to be released, but many like Josmith were left behind. Despite filing multiple requests to see a doctor, Josmith’s asthma went untreated until he nearly collapsed. His lawyer advocated for his release, but ICE refused. Josmith was eventually released after an inquiry was made by BuzzFeed News.

The Cibola County Correctional Center, operated by CoreCivic for ICE, has a history of inadequate medical care. A Reuters report from 2020 highlighted the facility’s failure to provide medical attention to transgender detainees, resulting in the closure and transfer of those individuals. A leaked memo to ICE leadership revealed instances of delayed medical care, poor sanitation practices, and medication non-compliance at the facility. Despite reporting 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the actual number is likely higher due to limited testing.

Another Haitian asylum-seeker, Fristzner, also struggled to receive medical care while in ICE detention. After losing his right eye in a stabbing incident in Haiti, Fristzner feared his eye socket was infected. However, ICE initially refused to release him, citing public safety concerns. Fristzner submitted multiple requests to see a doctor but received no response. Eventually, with outside pressure from a reporter and member of Congress, he was released and diagnosed with glaucoma.

These cases highlight the difficulties faced by ICE detainees with high-risk medical conditions in obtaining necessary medical care and being released from detention. Advocates and attorneys must push for their release, but those without legal representation often fall through the cracks. The Cibola County Correctional Center’s track record of inadequate care raises serious concerns about the well-being of immigrants detained there.

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Written by Western Reader

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