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ICE and CCA Continue to Endanger the Lives of Mothers and Children Incarcerated at Family Detention Facility

27 June, 2016

CARA

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Today, the American Immigration Council (Council), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), partners in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, formally lodged the latest in a series of complaints detailing the inhumane conditions to which mothers and children are subjected while detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas.

Tragically, this complaint documents many of the very same medical access problems that were brought to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) by CARA on July 30, 2015. The latest examples include:

  • A mother and two-year-old son suffering from a cough, a cold, and a fever; the mother was told by the nurse that there was no doctor onsite and that nurses were not authorized to prescribe medicine. She and her son returned to the clinic on numerous occasions, still sick and in need of care; on one occasion they waited for four hours, but did not get to see a doctor because he was at lunch. The sixth time the mother sought help, she was given ibuprofen and Vicks Vaporub for her son, who had been vomiting and unable to eat for days.
  • A three-year-old girl, sick with a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and ear pain waited more than five hours to see a nurse. The nurse examined her and said she looked dehydrated and it appeared she had a burst ear drum; a doctor said that she had either a virus or an infection that would go away in two to three weeks. The doctor prescribed Vicks Vaporub. Since that appointment, the girl has lost weight and is still sick.
  • A four-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with anemia when he was an infant and required regular medical intervention to treat his condition, but has not received any treatment since he arrived at Dilley, despite his mother’s repeated attempts to get him medical attention. He complains of pain in his head, his lips turn purple, and he shakes from being cold, even in the heat of South Texas. He vomits, is constantly fatigued and does not play with other children.

To date, the CARA project has received no meaningful response to any of the complaints submitted to CRCL and OIG on the issue of inadequate medical care and there have been no visible improvements made. The cases documented here represent merely a sampling of the dire state of medical care at Dilley because, in some cases, mothers fear that lodging a formal complaint might negatively impact their immigration cases and therefore do not speak out publicly.

In addition to investigating the specific cases described in the complaint, CARA urges a broader investigation into the adequacy of the medical care provided at all three family detention facilities. These complaints add to the already overwhelming evidence that the detention of children and mothers is inherently inhumane and must end.

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