House panel opens investigation into immigrant detainees’ medical care

House panel opens investigation into immigrant detainees’ medical care

Sign at the protest outside the Gene Snyder Federal Courthouse for the #CloseTheCamps protest over conditions in the migrant holding camps. By Jesse Hollon – Louisville, Kentucky, USA – July 2 2019 (Shutterstock)

By Justine Coleman, THE HILL

A House subcommittee has opened an investigation into immigrant detainees’ medical care after allegations surfaced of negligence, abuse, injury and death at detention centers.

The House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties submitted letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), asking for documentation relating to the allegations.

The subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is asking for the documents by Jan. 10.

One claim of mistreatment involves a 16-year-old who died of the flu after being left for hours without treatment.

“The Department’s failure to care for this sick child appears to be part of a troubling pattern of abuse and poor treatment of immigrants in the Department’s detention centers,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, said in a statement. 

At least seven children have died in detention since 2018, after almost a decade without any such deaths. The subcommittee has also been provided with at least 17 complaints of “inadequate medical treatment,” including providing incorrect medication, witnessing withdrawal symptoms and ICE Health Service Corps’ leaders being “unresponsive or even dishonest when confronted.”

“According to the report, most, if not all, of these incidents were the result of gross negligence on behalf the ICE personnel and medical professionals tasked with caring for detainees,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the chairman of the subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said. “Reportedly, no action was taken by ICE or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remedy the inadequacies that led to these horrific incidents.” 

The letters also request communications between ICE and CRCL about the medical treatment of detainees, internal death reviews and any documents that would show ICE workers’ improper treatment or retaliation against a person. It also asks for a memo that details the allegations.

BuzzFeed News first reported the allegations of mistreatment earlier this month from a memo by a whistleblower.

Heather Swift, the acting assistant secretary of public affairs, said in a statement to The Hill that the department has held briefings and submitted more than 5,000 pages of documents 
“DHS is committed to the highest standard of care,” she said. “We have more than 200 medical professionals on the border and are continually updating our policies and procedures.”
The DHS Office of the Inspector General found “no misconduct” by DHS officials in the deaths of two children in reports released last week. 
It is always good to know what your options are available, given your particular situation.  Hence, persons needing more information should consult a good immigration lawyer or tune in to Ask the Lawyer Radio Show on Thursdays from 10:00pm – 11:00pm or Sundays from 11:00 pm–12:00am on WVIP 93.5 FM.  Also, for a FREE consultation or to refer a client, visit

Leave a Reply