How Does Medical Care Work in Immigration Detention Centers?

October 02, 2020

Action Immigration

At any one time in the United States, an estimated 30,000 people are being held in immigration detention by ICE. Although lower than the record highs seen in the early 2010s, it is clear that current detention policy has led to a huge number of immigrants and asylum seekers being detained in the US.

Although the US detention system is more well-funded than most others in the world, there is still an issue of resource scarcity and distribution in many detention centers. This means that, when medical problems arise among detainees, it is important to know exactly what your rights and options are.

With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about health care in ICE detention. 

1. The Current Situation

When it comes to medical care for immigration detainees, it's worth pointing out that the situation can be bleak. Numerous reports from the likes of the ACLU and Amnesty International have shown evidence of systemic failings when it comes to providing adequate medical care for detained immigrants.

People can and do die from treatable conditions in ICE detention. However, this is, statistically speaking, the exception and not the norm. It is vital that you understand that you or your loved ones may be at risk of receiving substandard medical care in detention.

Knowing this can help you learn what your rights are and make the necessary moves to get your loved ones out of detention and into a hospital. 

2. Know Your Rights

All healthcare given to detainees in the US is provided by the ICE Health Service Corps. These are typically made up of nurses, general practitioners, dentists, and pediatric doctors. Complex treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy are often not provided by the ICE Health Service Corps.

According to the law, all detainees have a right to equitable and sufficient healthcare while in detention. It is a crime to deny a detainee vital healthcare treatment. Doing so can lead to the prosecution of ICE officials.

Detainees can and should invoke these rights if they feel they are being denied equitable healthcare treatment. If you have an immigration lawyer, immediately inform them of the situation so that they can take the necessary legal steps to get you treated. 

3. Accessing Healthcare in Immigration Detention

All detainees under ICE supervision have a right to access the health care system provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have the right to receive healthcare in your native language and ICE is obliged to provide a translator if necessary.

If you have a healthcare issue that requires urgent treatment, be it lifesaving or critical, you cannot continue to be held in a detention center. In this case, ICE is obliged to transport you offsite to receive the treatment you need at a local hospital.

Failure to do so is a crime. Your immigration lawyer should be kept informed of your healthcare situation at all times. This way, you and your loved ones can receive the care you need if you are in detention. 

Get Help 

No matter your health situation, being in immigration detention is not conducive to a positive healthcare outcome. That's why getting out of a detention center ASAP is crucial. For this, we're here to help. Make sure to get in touch with our bilingual bondsmen today to help secure a loved one's release.

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