Deaths in ICE Custody: Security Requires Accountability, Not Just Flexibility
The government is obliged to treat the life-threatening medical conditions of its prisoners, including illegal immigrants who are held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Yet Homeland Security "has resisted efforts by the American Bar Association to turn [detention] standards into regulations, saying that rulemaking would reduce the agency's flexibility." This is the same agency that wanted the "flexibility" to fire, demote, and transfer its employees at will, without the civil service protections that safeguard against arbitrary employment decisions.
"Flexibility" is a code word for "freedom from oversight." In the detainee context, here's what the department's trumpeted flexibility brings:
The inspector general in the Department of Homeland Security recently announced a “special review” of two deaths, including that of a Korean woman at a privately run detention center in Albuquerque. Fellow detainees told a lawyer that the woman, Young Sook Kim, had pleaded for medical care for weeks, but received scant attention until her eyes yellowed and she stopped eating. Ms. Kim died of pancreatic cancer in federal custody on Sept. 11, 2005, a day after she was taken to a hospital.
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