60 Minutes: Immigrant Detention In America

[media id=5260] [media id=5261] (h/t Heather) We've come a long way from "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe fr

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We've come a long way from "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" and not in a good way. On 60 Minutes, Scott Pelley looked at the horrific conditions faced by immigrants to this country--both legal and illegal--in detention centers including almost criminal medical negligence.

In 2004, United Nations troops were fighting militant gangs in the streets of Haiti. Eighty-one-year-old Reverend Joseph Dantica, a Baptist minister, saw his church ransacked during the unrest, so he fled to the United States and asked for political asylum. His niece, Edwidge Danticat (her last name is spelled differently than her uncle's) says he was taken straight to a U.S. immigration detention center.

"He was essentially arrested?" Pelley asks.

"Yes. I consider it an arrest," Danticat says. "Because ...he had to ask for special relief for him not to be handcuffed. And they did allow him that, but told him that if he ran, they would shoot him."[..]

Records show that two days later, during an asylum hearing, he became violently ill and collapsed. A detention center physician's assistant failed to recognize that Dantica was in serious trouble.

"Help me understand from the records that you've seen precisely what the medic said about your uncle and his condition," Pelley asks.

"It appears that he said, 'I think he's faking,' or something to that effect," Danticat says.

It took four hours to get Rev. Dantica to an outside hospital. His family wasn't allowed to see him. In a day and a half, Rev. Dantica was dead. The medical examiner said it was pancreatitis.[..]

"Yeah. And after being treated like an animal," Danticat says. "Someone who was just trying to escape horrible things, who was so old and sick. Just had to die that way."

But in one sense, Rev. Dantica was not alone: he's among hundreds of sick or dying detainees inside 22 detention centers, plus some 350 state and local jails. The federal lock-ups range from a former warehouse in New Jersey that houses 325 people, to a desert facility near the Mexican border.


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The centers are run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known by its initials "ICE."

Inside the detention centers, medical care is provided by another federal agency, the Division of Immigration Health Services, or DIHS. Reporters Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post have been investigating DIHS.

About Nicole Belle

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Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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