A year after immigrant advocates made US authorities aware of poor medical and mental health care at a Colorado detention facility, conditions have only gotten worse, according to a new complaint filed Tuesday.
The new administrative complaint, obtained by BuzzFeed News, was submitted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of Inspector General. It detailed stories of immigrant detainees who received inconsistent medication, suffered delayed medical care, and faced threats of punitive segregation following suicide attempts.
The supplemental complaint follows a similar one the American Immigration Council and American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted in June 2018 on behalf of immigrants detained at the Denver Contract Detention Facility (DCDF) in Aurora, Colorado, who endured “pain, serious injury, or the risk of death.”
Katie Shepherd, national advocacy counsel with the Immigration Justice Campaign of the American Immigration Council, said that the federal government has failed to respond in a meaningful way to their complaint last year and continues to provide poor medical care.
“The government has failed to provide adequate medical care, and the result is the suffering and death that occurs inside ICE detention centers,” Shepherd told BuzzFeed News. “If they’re going to keep tens of thousands of people in their custody at any one time, then they need to humanely and responsibly provide the services necessary for those in their care.”
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement GEO Group, the private prison contractor that operates the jail, said detainees at the facility are medically screened immediately upon arrival and receive a full physical within 14 days of their admission. The company noted they have a full-time physician, a full-time physician’s assistant, as well as a cadre of nursing services, dentist, psychologist, psychiatrist.
“GEO’s medical program at the facility provides 24/7 medical services,” the company said.
The two organizations that wrote the complaint said that over the past year, conditions for immigrant detainees have grown “measurably worse.” They say this is in part because the GEO Group expanded the Aurora facility by opening a 432-bed annex, increasing its capacity to 1,532.
By Adolfo Flores for BUZZFEED.NEWS
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