Nelson De Jesus Fernandez takes blood thinners to control Behcet’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues, resulting in damage to blood vessels and veins. But when Fernandez — who’s originally from the Dominican Republic — was placed in an immigrant detention center in Hudson County, New Jersey, he wasn’t given the right medication. The facility gave him an unknown drug that caused him to bleed internally for approximately three days before he was taken to a local hospital.
Fernandez wasn’t the only immigrant whose symptoms were neglected at the Hudson County Correctional Facility. Another detainee was denied ongoing care after an initial hospital appointment even though he was a cancer survivor. Yet another was denied physical therapy and additional surgery to repair an internal issue with his leg, which he broke before he was detained by immigration agents, because “the injury occurred prior to ICE custody.”
These are just a few of the five dozen immigrants held in at Hudson who received inadequate medical care, according to a complaint filed by the immigrant rights organizations Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and First Friends of NJ NY.
The complaint calls on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to look into issues of medical neglect at the facility, which has a federal contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to detain immigrants who are awaiting potential deportation proceedings. According to the letter, Hudson ranks as “one of the top three detention facilities with the most human and civil rights complaints.”
ICE Ignores Immigrants’ Medical Needs In Detention Centers Until They DieImmigration by CREDIT: AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File Between 2010 and 2012, eight people died from inadequate medical…thinkprogress.orgSince January 2014, the Hudson facility has received medical grievances from 121 individuals detained under custody of ICE. But the complaint noted that the facility “only took corrective action in 2.48 [percent] of these complaints, begging the question what role did ICE play to ensure that these complaints were fully addressed.” The complaint noted that 560 individuals were also taken to outside hospital treatments, 184 of whom were hospitalized because of medical emergencies.
Issues of inadequate medical care appear to be prevalent in ICE-operated immigrant facilities. Between 2010 and 2012, eight people died from inadequate medical care while held in detention centers operated by the agency. Some of those immigrants, like Pablo Gracida-Conte, a detainee at Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center, eventually died. Still, the facilities received passing ratings even when the U.S. Office of Detention Oversight (ODO) inspections found that they failed to meet proper medical care standards.