Things That Matter

Migrants Are Being Detained Indefinitely By The Trump Administration. Here’s How They’re Getting The Word Out

Detained undocumented people don’t have much of a say about their treatment under custody by the U.S. government. We are not talking about felons, murderers, rapists, or hard criminals; we’re talking about detained undocumented migrants seeking asylum. So what is left for them to do? How else can they get people’s attention about their situation? They’re taking desperate measures.

More undocumented detainees are going on hunger strikes to protest bail policies and unfair treatment in detention centers.

According to NPR, there have been six hunger strikes at detention centers this year and immigration advocates say it’s due to the changing policy. The Trump administration has changed the policy to allow holding detainees without bail.

Since last year, President Trump has been saying that detainees won’t be released and await trial. Bail has long been the standard policy called due process under the law. Instead, the Trump administration wants to hold migrants until their cases are settled.

“We’re going to catch, we’re not going to release,” he said during a news conference in November. “They’re going to stay with us until the deportation hearing or the asylum hearing takes place…And they await a lengthy court process. The court process will take years sometimes for them to attend. Well, we’re not releasing them into our country any longer. They’ll wait.”

Attorney General William Barr went further and said that in 90 days they will implement a new no bail policy, which will cause overcrowding at centers and also more hunger strikes. The American Civil Liberties Union is already planning on using the Administration.

Last week, 150 detainees went on a hunger strike in Louisiana.

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The Associated Press reports that detainees protested poor conditions and medical care in the detention center, others said they were frustrated that they were denied bond.

Officials there said only 24 detainees went on a hunger strike, but immigrant advocates say the number was actually 150.

“We have never seen so many hunger strikes in so many different places in less than three, four months,” Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigrants rights activist told NPR. “And the ones we have been able to engage with have been led by asylum-seekers.”

We shall see how many more detainees choose this route in the coming months.

READ: This Detention Center has Driven its Women to Go on a Hunger Strike

ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody

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ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody

DHS / Public Domain

As the influx of undocumented immigrants continues to surge, there’s a great distinction that should be made about this group. There are currently hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants that are being detained in detention centers across the United States. There are also thousands of undocumented immigrants that are currently seeking asylum. Some are in the U.S. and others are waiting in Mexico under the Trump’s Administration “Remain in Mexico” policy.

So, understanding that there are undocumented immigrants both in the U.S. and in Mexico, the ones that are technically in the custody of the U.S. officials are the ones in this country and not a foreign one. We point this out in order for readers to understand the fatal casualties that occur in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and others that occur on the border (including those that die in the Rio Grande), and people that die or go missing in Mexico. The records for all of these deaths are separate. 

ICE is reporting that a 37-year-old undocumented man from Mexico died in their custody. He is the eighth person to die in ICE custody. 

According to a press release statement by ICE, Roberto Rodriguez-Espinoza was pronounced dead by medical staff at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois on Sept. 10 at 9:35 p.m. The doctor that was treating Rodriguez-Espinoza said the preliminary cause of death as a subdural hematoma. A subdural hematoma “is a collection of blood outside the brain,” according to WebMD. “Subdural hematomas are usually caused by severe head injuries.”

Despite the preliminary cause of death, ICE is reporting that his death was caused by his alcoholism.

Here’s the ICE report: 

“On the day of his arrest, during his intake screening, Rodriguez-Espinoza admitted to daily consumption of alcohol. On Sept. 7, facility staff observed Rodriguez-Espinoza acting confused and the facility’s physician ordered Rodriguez-Espinoza transported to the Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital emergency room in Woodstock, Illinois, for further evaluation due to his confusion and history of alcohol consumption. On Sept. 8, the hospital transferred him via ambulance to Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital, in Huntley, Illinois, where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. He was then transferred to Central DuPage Hospital for a neurosurgery consult. Rodriguez-Espinoza failed to respond during a neurological exam performed upon arrival at Central DuPage and the attending neurosurgeon advised that Rodriguez-Espinoza was unlikely to survive the surgery.” 

ICE is also reporting that Rodriguez-Espinoza was allegedly a member of the Latin Kings gang. 

According to Latino USA, the Latin Kings gang first began in Chicago back in the 1950s. Other outlets report that the Latin Kings have gang members situated all over the country, and elsewhere. It is unclear whether Rodriguez-Espinoza was actually affiliated with that gang, but ICE is reporting that he had two convictions, one in 2016 on a burglary conviction and another in 2008 and was charged with a theft conviction. “ICE contacted the Mexican Consulate to inform them of Rodriguez-Espinoza’s medical status and to request assistance locating his next of kin. Mexican Consular officials subsequently advised that Rodriguez-Espinoza had no known next of kin.”

ICE is also stating that 8 deaths within the fiscal year (Oct. 2018-present) is not many compared to the number of detainees they have.

Courtesy of  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“On an annual basis, anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 individuals are processed into ICE custody, many of whom have never had regular healthcare and suffer from severe acute and chronic medical conditions,” ICE stated. “The following chart [pictured above] shows that ICE is at a 6 year low regarding deaths on custody and the trend has been declining since 2004.”

However, as we previously noted in this article, ICE is not counting the overall number of undocumented deaths that occur at the border, or asylum seekers, or that of children. 

report that is public information on the ICE website shows six deaths since October. That number does not include the death of Rodriguez-Espinoza or that of Pedro Arriago-Santoya, who died on July 21 at the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia. ICE reports that Arriago-Santoya died of “cardio-pulmonary arrest secondary to multi-organ system failure, endocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy with a low ejection fraction and respiratory failure.” 

Furthermore, an NBC News report from June shows that 24 undocumented immigrants died while in ICE Custody. So while ICE can say that this latest death is only the eighth death this fiscal year in ICE custody, that number is actually higher. 

ICE reports that they treat each person with the medical treatment needed and that each detainee has medical help available to them 24 hours a day. “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody. Staffing for detainees includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers like physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and a physician.”

READ: A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The US

AOC Called Out Rep. Steve King For Willfully Risking Pink Eye Instead Of Admitting Migrants Deserve Better Treatment

Things That Matter

AOC Called Out Rep. Steve King For Willfully Risking Pink Eye Instead Of Admitting Migrants Deserve Better Treatment

@SteveKingIA / Twitter

The migrant detention sanitary debate has reached new depths this week when Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) tweeted a video of himself drinking water out of water fountain attached to a toilet at a migrant detention center. In the tweet, King accused Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of lying to spin “#FakeNews” about the border in order to create “click bait for Snowflakes!” You bet AOC fired back.

In case you forgot, earlier this summer, members of Congress, including AOC, toured migrant facilities in El Paso and Clint, Texas. Every member of Congress that visited the centers recalled the story of one woman who was told by an agent to drink water out of the toilet when the faucet stopped working. Rep. Ayanna Pressley even tried to open the faucet, and fiddle with it to make it function, but it simply wouldn’t work.

Rep. Steve King told a town hall meeting that he actually visited the facility and filmed himself drinking from a toilet fountain at a migrant facility and it was “actually pretty good.”

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In the video, Rep. King is seen taking a sip from the fountain, pulling away for a couple of seconds, and going back in to finish drinking the water. Then, he swishes it around his mouth, swallows, snaps his fingers and blurts, “Not bad.”

Maura Barrett of NBC reports that Rep. King told the town hall this story: “I actually went into that cell where it was reported that they were advised they had to drink out of the toilet. I took a drink out of there. And actually pretty good! So I have a videotape and I smacked my lips, but I didn’t send it out because I thought, ‘You know, this subject just needs to go into the rearview mirror.’ Why do I bring it up now, you ask? That was a little personal experience.”

Then he started referring to migrants as “inmates” in a “prison,” that necessitate “semi indestructible” toilets.

“There’s these toilets in these prisons, are stainless steel,” he went on to say in the same report. “They’re built so that they are semi indestructible by the inmates that are there. And in the back where the lid would be on our toilet, that’s also sealed.” According to King’s understanding, “There’s a water fountain there, you push the button, the water comes out and you take a drink. It’s how it is. It’s not drinking out of the toilet, it’s drinking out of the water fountain that’s integral with the back of the toilet. But I think there was a little language barrier there and so that’s how come we got that misinformation.”

After King effectively called AOC a liar, AOC mocked what she sees as King’s proof of arrogance on the issue.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

“There is a genre of videos where GOP House members – who clearly didn’t read sworn testimony that detention sinks were broken – filming themselves drinking out of toilet sinks,” she tweeted back. “They’re so anti-immigrant they risk pink eye to show off that they didn’t do the reading. #CloseTheCamps.”

Meanwhile, the rest of Twitter is like, “que que?”

Credit: @donmoyn / Twitter

“That’s not where the water, the women were told to drink, was” tweeted  @iTibbi. “In their cell, the sink above the toilet was broken. They were told to drink the water in the toilet. What he does in that video mocks those women and the conditions they were put in. Never expect better from him.” Steve King is making zero points when he drinks out of a functioning water fountain because that was never the challenge posited to the detained women. Officers told the women to drink from the toilet bowl when the fountain stopped working. 

King was removed from the only committee assignment he ever held after he questioned why being called a “white nationalist” or “white supremacist” was so offensive.

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In an interview with The Times Steve King actually said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” While President Trump never condemned King’s statement, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell suggested “another line of work” was in King’s future. King never apologized or offered another opinion on white supremacy, and simply said he was misunderstood. 

One Twitter user rightly asked, “Wait, how could he get a tour but not members of the House Oversight Committee? Steve King literally sits on no committees; there is no reason for him to review migrant facilities.”

READ: Racist Congressman on National Television: What Have Non-White People Ever Done For Civilization?