Things That Matter

Three Migrants Kids Died Of Flu-Related Illness, Now The Trump Administration Is Refusing To Administer The Vaccine

The Trump administration has made it clear that when it comes to its immigration policies, the cruelty is the point. Officials within the administration have admitted that their inhumane policies are meant as deterrents. The administration believes that if you’re cruel enough, people will stop seeking a new life in the United States.

However, that isn’t what the US is supposed to be about. The US is supposed to be a country of immigrants. A nation that welcomes people fleeing from poverty, violence, and even possible death. With each new anti-immigrant policy the administration puts forward, that reputation of a nation of immigrants is continuing to crumble. 

For example, the administration will not provide the flu vaccine to people in detention centers even though several have already died due to the illness. 

The US won’t be vaccinating migrant families in holding centers ahead of this year’s flu season, despite calls from doctors to boost efforts to fight the infection that’s killed at least three children at detention facilities in the past year.

At least three children who were held in detention centers after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico have died in recent months, in part, from the flu, according to a letter to Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., from several doctors urging Congress to investigate health conditions at the centers.

The move is just the latest in a series of cruel tactics targeting the migrant community.

We already know the Trump Administration is practically torturing undocumented immigrants detained at various detention camps by separating them from their families, denying them hygiene products, denying them water, forcing them to endure harassment and abuse by untrained employees, and detaining them longer.

The Trump Administration’s latest form of torture denies detained migrant families basic healthcare, including not administering to them the flu vaccine.

And the excuse from CBP makes absolutely zero sense. 

“In general, due to the short term nature of CBP holding, the time the vaccine takes to begin working, and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody,” a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement to CBS News.

This statement is flawed. Migrant families are being detained for long periods of time. The way officials get away with it, under the law, is to continuously transfer them to other detainment centers.

And now with the administrations upcoming rule change that would allow for indefinite detention, this makes absolutely zero sense. 

Medical groups and immigrant advocate groups are calling this inhumane treatment out for what it is. 

Doctors have already noted that CBP is not following medical screenings of incoming detainees and that officials have had to quarantine people multiples times because of the outbreak of disease. 

Three undocumented children have already died of the flu under the mishandling of the CBP.

“I can tell you from personal experience that child deaths are rare events,” Harvard pediatrics professor Dr. Jonathan Winickoff said to CNBC in an interview. 

Winickoff said that current holding conditions, like being placed in close proximity to other immigrants, make it easy to spread infectious diseases from person to person. He added that contracting the flu weakens a child’s immune system, making it harder to fight off other illnesses.

“A child might start out with flu but then die of another infection,” he added.

If conditions don’t improve, Dr. Julie Linton, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Immigrant Child and Family Health, said more children will needlessly die.

While people on social media had plenty of strong reactions against the policy.

People on social media are calling this torture of detainees a form of genocide, and here’s why: under Hitler rule, while some Jews died in gas chambers, others died because of disease. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) internal watchdog released a harrowing report about the health dangers inside detention centers.

“We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,” the report said.

Flu season is just over a month away and for migrants being held in detention centers across the US, it could be a very dangerous one.

The CBP and the Trump Administration don’t seem to be too worried — or worried at all — about the health risks migrant families are being exposed to and who falls victim to them because if they did, immediate action would be taken to help these communities.

Flu season begins in October and will last through January — possibly longer. Something tells us the ramifications of this year’s flu season will last longer than a couple of months.

Border Patrol Gave This Woman Zero Privacy As She Waited In An Emergency Room

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Border Patrol Gave This Woman Zero Privacy As She Waited In An Emergency Room

Jeff Greenberg / Getty

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has sparked outrage after Border Patrol agents were spotted waiting outside a patient’s room in the emergency unit of a Florida hospital before taking the patient into custody.

Video and images posted to social media on Sunday appeared to show at least one Border Patrol agent waiting outside a room at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, with later footage appearing to show officers escorting the patient, a woman, into the back of a Border Patrol vehicle.

The ordeal started as the family was headed home after a day at the beach.

During a traffic stop, Border Patrol agents detained an undocumented woman who was on her way home from a family outing at Haulover Beach. It wasn’t long after the Border Patrol car pulled her over that she entered into a panic attack, vomiting and then eventually fainting. The officers took her to a Miami-area hospital, where she was treated by emergency-room doctors.

On the side of a road in Miami Beach, the federal agents had repeatedly told her, “We just need you to come with us.” Her kids, both teenagers, were crying, begging the agents not to take away their mother. But that appears like it’s exactly what happened. A family’s day at the beach ending with life long trauma for two teenagers who didn’t want to lose their mother and a woman fearful for her future.

Once she arrived to the emergency room, Border Patrol agents refused to leave the woman alone.

In fact, they wouldn’t leave her at all for nearly five hours. Officers waited either inside her actual room, affording her zero privacy, or they were waiting for her outside an open door. Agents refused to budge even as doctors and nurses came to ask her questions and give her medication.

When the woman was discharged shortly thereafter, a uniformed Border Patrol agent escorted her to a patrol vehicle and drove away. Immigrant-rights activists, who captured the incident on video, say the woman’s detention showed callous disregard for a person undergoing medical treatment.

Migrant rights activists were quick to condemn the agency’s actions and some even caught the drama on film.

Thomas Kennedy, who filmed a series of videos documenting the incident, told The Washington Post that the incident raises questions about the line – or lack thereof – between immigration enforcement and emergency medical care. He declined to name the woman out of concern for her safety.

“A hospital should be a place where a patient is protected from interrogation,” Kennedy, the political director at the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said in an interview. “You shouldn’t have a Border Patrol agent right there with you while you’re getting treatment.”

“It’s truly embarrassing as a country that this is a place where we are — that this is how business is being conducted, when we have a woman with children in the midst of a medical emergency being detained,” says Alexandra Audate, a lawyer and rapid-response volunteer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), who was present at the hospital.

Sadly, this is hardly the first time Border Patrol has harassed people in hospitals.

High-profile incidents in recent years have drawn attention to Border Patrol’s role in hospitals along the U.S.-Mexico border, where agents have allegedly handcuffed asylum seekers to their beds or rushed migrants to the emergency room after they’ve gotten sick in detention.

Less has been documented about Border Patrol’s place in hospitals elsewhere in the 100-mile “border zone,” where the agency can operate with a heightened kind of authority. That area, which encompasses a majority of the U.S. population, includes any point in the country that’s within 100 miles of a coastline, Canada or Mexico – including the entirety of states like Florida, Michigan and Massachusetts.

In the border zone, agents can stop, question, and detain anyone they suspect of having committed immigration violations – as they seem to have done on Sunday.

More Than 700 Women Have Disappeared From A Texas ICE Detention Center And Their Lawyers Don’t Know Where They Are

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More Than 700 Women Have Disappeared From A Texas ICE Detention Center And Their Lawyers Don’t Know Where They Are

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Across a network of more than 200 migrant prisons and municipal migrant jails, the US government is detaining roughly 18,000 people at any given moment. And that’s not including the more than 12,000 minors who are held in other facilities under the supervision of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s.

And amid this network of for-profit private prisons and government-ran detention centers, migrants are constantly being shuffled around – often without little notice to their lawyers and even family.

This time, the agency is accused of moving more than 700 women without notifying their lawyers, family, or anyone else.

According to attorneys from the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), ICE has moved more than 700 women out of a Texas detention center. And ICE gave their lawyers zero way of locating them, which is especially damning considering many of the women face serious medical conditions.

Starting on Sept. 20, the women being held at the Karnes County Residential Center were sent to other centers around the country so that the facility could be used to detain families. More than two weeks later, their lawyers from RAICES have no idea where the majority of these women are being held, and they can’t find any updated information in ICE’s online detainee tracking system.

Many of these women have serious medical conditions and not being able to advocate for their health could have fatal consequences.

“I’m really fearful that their conditions could worsen,” Meza said. “I don’t want them to be in another ICE press release about death in detention.” 

The situation highlights a common problem for migrants in ICE custody: They can be transferred between facilities with little notice and yet their new locations are not promptly updated in the system. If their existing lawyers and family members can’t find them, they may have to go through their cases without legal representation, especially in remote areas where legal counsel is sparse. And those with serious health issues could die if advocates who don’t know where their clients were transferred are unable to fight for their right to medical treatment. 

According to ICE, advocates shouldn’t worry because “adequate medical care is being provided to all detainees.”

An ICE official told HuffPost that “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody” adding that staffing includes registered nurses, licensed mental health providers, a physician and access to 24-hour emergency care. The official acknowledged that the women at Karnes had been transferred to other facilities, but did not explain why their locations were not showing up in the online system.

But given the deaths that have occurred in ICE facilities and the overall cruelty towards people in their custody, few people trust ICE’s ability to care for migrants.

At Karnes, some of the immigrants were allegedly being denied lifesaving care, such as cancer and HIV treatment, and that suicidal patients were not receiving psychiatric counseling. One woman with cancer in her uterus said she had not received medical treatment for more than two months. Another immigrant, who is HIV positive, said she was not getting her medication or being evaluated by a doctor, even as her symptoms worsened.

The lack of medical care in immigrant detention facilities is well-established. Eight immigrants have died in ICE detention centers this year, and six minors have died in Border Patrol centers, in many cases because they didn’t receive proper medical help for their illnesses. 

Technically there’s no legal requirement for ICE to inform detainees’ lawyers that they are being transferred. 

According to Andrea Meza, Director of Family Detention Services for RAICES, ICE is not at all required to inform anyone when a detainee is transferred to a new location.

There is one exception: ICE is mandated to provide notice of transfer for Salvadorans, per the Orantes Settlement Agreement — but only Salvadorans.) Otherwise, Meza says, “There’s not really anything that requires them to give us notice as to where our clients are.” 

But even if ICE did update the platform used to track migrants in their custody, lawyers said it’s rarely that reliable.

It can take up to a few weeks for someone who is transferred to a new facility to show up in the system, which means families are often left wondering whether their loved ones have been deported back to life-threatening situations in their home countries.

“I think FedEx does a better job of tracking its packages than ICE does of tracking the people it detains,” Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigrant rights attorney told HuffPo.  

Of the women RAICES has been able to locate, some are being housed at a private prison in Mississippi that the Justice Department found so poorly-managed it issued a scathing 65-page report detailing its problems. The Federal Bureau of Prisons to ended its contract with the prison earlier this year, but now immigrant women are being sent there.