The absolute attrocities being committed in the name of "immigration enforcement" in this country continue to astound me.
The Defendants’ refusal to provide CASTANEDA reasonable and
humane medical care while he was in custody was tantamount to torture. He was forced to endure one of the most painful, terrifying, and humiliating experiences imaginable. CASTANEDA continually pleaded for the biopsy recommended by California medical providers, federal medical providers, and outside specialists selected by the federal government, but was denied this simple and inexpensive diagnostic test. As a result, he was denied medical treatment that would have prevented his penile cancer from spreading and becoming terminal.
If we are going to engage in these draconian raids and detention activities against immigrants (not that we should), we at least have a moral obligation to provide humane treatment which would include adequate medical care. Of course, the Bush administration will not even provide health care for U.S. citizen children, so I am being naive to believe they would provide it to a detained immigrant being held out of the public eye.
More from the press release:
Public Justice Staff Attorney Adele Kimmel said the lawsuit seeks to hold the federal and state governments accountable for abdicating their responsibility to Castaneda.
“We hope that, by exposing the federal government’s inhumane treatment of immigration detainees like Mr. Castaneda, we can help to change a system that is severely broken,” said Kimmel. “The policies and practices of the Division of Immigration and Health Services have made it nearly impossible for detainees to get adequate medical care. This lawsuit is a reminder that providing that care is a constitutional requirement.”
What is really infuriating is that he was held in a federal immigration detention center until just before immigration would have had to have paid for a biopsy that had finally been scheduled. They kept him in detention and denied care until it would have cost them. Mr. Castaneda took himself to an emergency room after he was released. The cancer was diagnosed and his penis amputated, but the cancer had spread. He is not likely to survive.
Again from the press release:
“Government officials imposed a death sentence on Mr. Castaneda, without the benefit of judge or jury, by their failure to provide a simple and inexpensive diagnostic procedure to rule out a life-threatening disease,” Doyle said. “This is a tragic case that could have been prevented by the exercise of basic human decency.”
He had been held in immigration detention from March 2006 until February 2007, almost a year, and several federal and outside medical professionals recommended the biopsy and treatment, yet it was never offered.
From the complaint:
Finally, after prolonged pressure from the ACLU National Prison Project,
the federal government scheduled CASTANEDA for a biopsy to occur in February 2007, but released CASTANEDA from custody just a few days before the scheduled biopsy, presumably so it would not have to pay for the procedure or any subsequent medical treatment he would need.
Mr. Castaneda has a 14 year old daughter and is very sick but he found time to testify about the inhumane treatment of detained immigrants in the U.S. before congress and is bringing this lawsuit that he hopes will focus attention on it.
“I’m just glad to be in a country where getting justice is possible,” he said.
I wish him all the best. I wish I could share his optimism that justice is still possible in this country.