Fifteen immigrants currently in detention centers sued the President Donald Trump Administration on Monday for not guaranteeing them access to medical services and for segregating people with disabilities.
This class action lawsuit, representing 55,000 detainees, was filed today in a Riverside (California) court and alleges that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) do not meet the “requirements constitutional “that protect immigrants.
The plaintiffs, held in eight detention centers in six states, accuse ICE of delays or refusals in providing medical and mental care, as well as using isolation as punishment and discriminating against detainees with physical disabilities who require accommodation and special services.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) attorney Lisa Graybill, who represents the plaintiffs, warned in a statement that “the horrible mistreatment of immigrants from this administration is not limited to people at the border.”
The lawyer warns that at least 26 people have died since Trump took office and that tens of thousands have suffered from the federal government’s failure to provide basic medical care in detention centers.
One of the people indicated in the lawsuit is the Salvadorian José Segovia Benítez, 38. This Marine Corps veteran suffers from posttraumatic stress and has a heart condition that has not been treated by the authorities of the Adelanto Detention Center (California) since January 2018, when he was taken into ICE custody.
In 2003, while assigned to Iraq, Segovia Benítez was seriously injured by an explosive, which resulted in head trauma, depression, anxiety, hearing loss, and also has a heart condition.
According to the lawsuit, the Salvadoran has informed the authorities that he is suffering from chest pains, dizziness and other problems, but he has been delayed or denied the medical attention he requires. He was also placed in solitary confinement for behaviors derived from posttraumatic stress, which would have further affected his health.
Tim Fox, director of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), said in a statement that “reports of deaths of detainees in ICE custody that the government publishes provide examples of medical abuse and neglect.”
The legal action also exposes the case of the Mexican Raúl Alcocer Chávez, 26 years old and also arrested in Adelanto. The immigrant is deaf and according to the Rehabilitation Law the authorities should give him fair conditions to adapt, the lawyers point out.
However, the detainee has not received the services of a sign language interpreter, has great difficulty communicating with medical staff and has not been able to access a call with a lawyer through an interpreter.
Immigration authorities made him sign documents that he did not understand, highlights the lawsuit.
“The risk is growing exponentially as this administration unnecessarily expands detention in thousands of beds every year,” Fox said.