ACLU Urges House Judiciary Committee to Support Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008

September 11, 2008 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Legislation is first congressional action to provide basic medical care of immigration detainees

Contact: (202) 675-2312,

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after months of compelling TV and newspaper exposés detailing deficient medical care and over 60 immigration detention deaths, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up a bill requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop procedures to ensure adequate medical and mental health care for all detainees held by DHS Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The ACLU urges the House Judiciary Committee members to vote for H.R. 5950, the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008, introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“The Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008 is long overdue. Too many immigration detainees have needlessly suffered, and even died, as a result of shabby or no medical care. These accounts have been documented by The New York Times, The Washington Post, ‘60 Minutes,’ and many other news outlets. Month after month we learn of horror stories of detainees who have unnecessarily had to face amputation, chemotherapy, radiation because ICE repeatedly ignored their cries for medical help.

“The bill will set standards for timely and effective delivery of medical care to immigration detainees by providing medical screenings and examinations, continuity of care, and discharge planning. Health care professionals will be required to make all treatment decisions based on medical clinical judgments, not on cost-savings to DHS. The legislation will also require ICE to report detainee deaths to Congress and the DHS Office of the Inspector General.

“ICE’s handling of immigration detainees, which includes repeated denials or delays of medical care, contradicts American values. The time has come for Congress to take action to halt any more detainee deaths by ensuring that DHS provide basic medical and mental health care to all immigration detainees.”

# # #

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release