Letters to the Editor Respond to New York Times Investigation on Immigrants Who Die in Detention Centers
The New York Times recently published letters to the editor in response to an article on immigrant deaths in U.S. detention centers and a bill (HR 5950), introduced on Tuesday by House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), that would establish mandatory standards for medical care for immigrants in detention centers. Summaries appear below.
- Herbert Cole: The Times report "suggests an appalling lack of humanity in our immigration and penal systems," Cole, a physician, writes in a Times letter to the editor. Cole writes that the poor care reported by the Times "requires an investigation and re-evaluation of the medical care rendered to those unfortunate individuals incarcerated in our jails" and a "re-evaluation of the principles that have made this the great country it is" (Cole, New York Times, 5/9).
- Frank Donaghue: "The suffering and death of immigrants in U.S. detention facilities point to a still bigger outrage: the alarming breakdown of health care for detained immigrants and asylum seekers," Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights, writes in a Times letter to the editor. Donaghue writes that Congress and immigration officials should take several steps including providing money to "protect the health" of detainees, "enforce compliance with established standards of medical care in detention facilities," release detainees seeking asylum who pose no risk, pass Lofgren's legislation and "investigate the deaths of immigrant detainees" in U.S. custody (Donaghue, New York Times, 5/9).
- Amy Gottlieb: "The unfortunate callousness and disregard of medical complaints displayed by jail officials and immigration agents only demonstrate how far we have come to dehumanize individuals who are held behind bars," Gottlieb, program director of the American Friends Service Committee's Immigrant Rights Program, writes in a Times letter to the editor. Gottlieb concludes that the U.S. is "in grave danger of a nationwide lack of recognition that every individual deserves to be treated with respect" and "must reverse this trend before it is too late" (Gottlieb, New York Times, 5/9).
The Times "provided a glimpse behind" the "locked doors" of immigrant detention centers and found that its "account of several horrific deaths reflects the lack of adequate detention standards, oversight and accountability," a Miami Herald editorial states. The editorial continues that "standards should be mandated and enforced" at detention centers and that members of detainees' families "should be notified when relatives become ill or die in custody." The Herald concludes, "Congress should address all these issues" because no government agency "should be above scrutiny" (Miami Herald, 5/8).