Things That Matter

In Another Dangerous Attack On Migrants, ICE Is Denying Women Lifesaving Medical Care At This Texas Facility

It is undeniable that the flow of migrants towards a country presents all sorts of legal and financial challenges for a host country. Yes, we acknowledge that. But it is also true that the governments of developed nations to which Global South citizens try to migrate to escape poverty and armed conflict can choose to treat migrants (many of which are legitimate refugees fleeing real attempts to their lives and futures) in an ethical, humane way.

The recent influx of migrants to the United States has placed the spotlight on the conditions in which detainees at ICE Detention Centers are kept.

Credit: web18-detentioncenter2-1160×768 (1). Digital image. ACLU

We all, of course, remember the testimony of politicians such as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortrez, who witnessed first hand the dire situation. Children sleeping on the floor, people drinking water out of basins on top of toilets… a total recipe for a humanitarian disaster.  

And healthy conditions are an exception rather than the norm.

Credit: 180618-immigration-cages-ice-01 (1). Digital image. The New York Post

There have been reported outbreaks of lice, bed bugs and upper respiratory tract infections at detention centers, and the authorities have been unable or unwilling to provide basic healthcare for detainees. There have also been a fair number of deaths by suicide. The victims are usually detainees who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, which are unattended during detention. Since December, six minors have died while on ICE custody. Let that sink in. 

And now there are alarming reports coming out of an ICE facility in Texas that houses women.

Credit: karnes-frc. Digital image. ICE.gov

As the Huffington Post reports, interviews conducted by the advocacy group Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) reveal appalling episodes in the Karnes County Residential Center, where women are forced to stay for lengthy periods of time instead of being released on parole or bond. Some of these women face serious physical and psychological ailments. 

The interviews reveal cases of women with cancer that have not received any sort of treatment while at the facility.

Credit: _57298637.0. Digital image. VOX. 

The interviews conducted by RAICES revealed an appalling level of negligence. As HuffPost reports: “One Congolese woman who was diagnosed with cancer in her uterus said she has not been taken to a specialist for treatment since being sent to Karnes at the end of July. The pain in her back and abdomen has become so bad that she sleeps only two hours a night, according to her declaration”. Another woman from the African country (which has a bad reputation when it comes to women’s rights and that has been immersed in an on and off civil war for years) said that doctors told her she most likely had cancer (she had, they told her, a 90% chance), but she hasn’t had a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. 

Women at the facility are so desperate that advocates fear a wave of suicides.

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Andrea Meza, the director of family detention services at RAICES, told HuffPost: “We’ve heard so many women talk to us about wanting to kill themselves. It’s only a matter of time before someone dies at Karnes.”  They also heard stories of unattended miscarriages and psychotic episodes. 

The Karnes County Residential Center was originally built to house Central American migrants and their children, but things have changed.

Credit: port-isabel-detention-center. Digital image. Time. 

The facility was supposed to be a place where families could be kept together. But things have changed and now it is a real place of human anguish. The report by RAICES concludes that the site is being run with punitive purposes, to discourage people from crossing the border. Really, do authorities just sit around in meeting rooms plotting how to be even more inhumane? 

Now, the Trump administration announced that they will keep detaining families at this facility and Kamala Harris is against it.

Credit: download. Digital image. Politico

And Democrat lawmakers are not happy. As reported by Foreign Affairs New Zealand: “U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday sent a letter to Daniel Bible, San Antonio Field Office Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), demanding that ICE reconsider detaining families and children at the Karnes County Residential Center in light of multiple reports of insufficient medical care and attempted suicides. Given the inhumane conditions at Karnes, Harris also pressed Bible to use his discretion to consider each eligible woman currently detained at the facility for release from ICE custody”. 

There has been an increase in the number of undocumented migrants from Africa, and the Karnes County Residential Center houses a number of them.

Credit: abuse-texas-detenttion-center-1521822550. Digital image. The Intercept

The influx of Africans to the United States has increased dramatically in the past few years due to tougher immigration laws and enforcement in Western European countries and to the increased levels of violence in the region. Time reported earlier this year: “More than 500 migrants from countries such as Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola have arrived at the Del Rio border station in Texas since May 30, including a group of 116 people”. Reports suggest that instead of going through Mexico directly, African migrants first go to Brazil and then continue their perilous path to the United States. 

A Group Of Women At A Migrant Detention Center Demanded Information About Covid-19, Then They Were Pepper Sprayed

Things That Matter

A Group Of Women At A Migrant Detention Center Demanded Information About Covid-19, Then They Were Pepper Sprayed

Nick Ruiz / Getty

As the Coronavirus spreads throughout communities across the United States, one group of people are at particular risk for contracting the virus: migrant detainees.

Tens of thousands of migrants are packed into crowded detention centers with little access to proper sanitation or medical treatment. Even before the outbreak of Covid19, migrants were facing outbreaks of measles and influenza at greater numbers than the general public.

Now, as they demand information on the risk this new virus poses them, they’re being met with violence.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, so have confrontations between detainees and guards.

Credit: DHS / Office Of Inspector General

On Monday, migrants clashed with guards over a lack of safe conditions and demanded to be released from the South Texas Processing Center. The melee led to a standoff and the guards shot pepper spray at the detainees, which ended with nine of the migrants now held for disciplinary charges. The detainees had raised concerns about the lack of screening measures for new arrivals to the complex.

Then, a day later in Louisiana, an ICE spokesman said seven people were pepper-sprayed at the Pine Prairie detention center. Earlier, an ICE detainee in New Jersey described harrowing conditions and said migrants went on a hunger strike for soap. ProPublica obtained an audio recording in which the detainee said that guards, in response to the strike for hygiene products in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, told the detainees that they “have to die of something.”

The threat faced by detainees in ICE custody is real.

Credit: Grisel Gringis / YouTube

Four people — two correctional officers and two detainees — tested positive for COVID-19 at New Jersey detention facilities.

According to ICE’s guidance, new detainees who arrive at facilities are screened and isolated for a certain period of time if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms. The staff is also consulting with local health departments to determine whether there’s a need for testing.

For ICE’s part, they’re defending the use of chemicals against detainees as a necessary tool.

ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox told Mother Jones that pepper spray was used because “four persons became confrontational.” The rest of his statement said:

“The facility was conducting an informational briefing on COVID-19 preparations and safety measures in a detainee housing area to ensure persons in custody have accurate, timely information about the situation,”

As far as the use of force against migrants, he goes on to say: “ICE is tasked with providing safe and secure detention facilities for individuals in its custody. On March 25, at the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana, a group of ICE detainees became disruptive and confrontational with facility staff in their housing area. Detainees refused to comply with directives from facility staff and four attempted to force their way out of the housing area, at which time facility staff deployed oleoresin capsicum, commonly referred to as ‘OC’ spray. Upon deployment of OC, the detainees became compliant and facility staff was able to mitigate further risk of injury to both detainees and staff. This immediate use of force was conducted consistent with agency protocol. Medical staff evaluated all individuals who came in contact with the pepper spray; no detainee or staff injuries were reported.”

Even before the outbreak, ICE was using pepper spray against migrants in its facilities.

Last summer, over 100 immigrants were pepper-sprayed at a Louisiana Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. The incident happened after a group of detainees began to protest the conditions they were being forced to endure.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said that a “group of ICE detainees refused to depart the outdoor recreation area at the Pine Prairie facility Friday evening,” adding that “after repeated attempts by facility staff and ICE personnel to disperse the group and restore orderly operation of the facility, a brief, calculated use of pepper spray was employed Saturday morning.”

And this incident came just a day after 30 migrants were sprayed at a separate Louisiana facility. It’s obvious ICE is eager to use pepper spray against detainees in their care.

Rihanna Revealed A Childhood Experience That She Says Connects Her To Mexican Migrants In The U.S.

Entertainment

Rihanna Revealed A Childhood Experience That She Says Connects Her To Mexican Migrants In The U.S.

Badgirlriri / Instagram

Rihanna has never been afraid to speak her mind. She’s a woman who speaks up for issues she cares about and people listen to her. That’s why so many love her – present company included.

The ‘Umbrella’ singer, how has been kind of off the musical radar as of late, spoke out in a new interview with British Vogue and she had a few things to say about her upcoming music, where she’s been living, and her relationship with migrant communities.

Rihanna continues to use her platform and reach of over 200 million followers across social media to bring awareness to social issues that are important to her.

Credit: Chesnot / WireImage

In an interview with Vogue, the creator of “Fenty Beauty” explained feeling empathy with Mexicans and Latinos who are discriminated against in the United States, since she says that she knows how it feels to be on the end of discriminatory policies.

“The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she said. “So I identify—and that’s why I really relate and empathize with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”

Similarly, she recalled the times in which she suffered and the difficulties her and mother experienced when they emigrated from Barbados.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in St. Michael, Barbados to a Guyanese mother and Barbadian father.

In the Vogue interview, she added: “Let’s say I know what that fight is like. I have witnessed it, I have been there. I think I was eight years old when I had to live that in the middle of the night. So I know how daunting it is for a child, and if my father had been dragged out of my house, I can guarantee you that my life would have been a disaster.”

In that same Vogue interview, Rihanna confessed to something that few people outsider her inner circle even knew.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

She explained that in recent years she has become a bit of a nomad, having a house in London, Paris, Barbados and Mexico, where she feels more relaxed.

“I just love Mexico. I really need to do my DNA test,” she jokingly told Afua Hirsch of Vogue. Perhaps she was an agave plant, in a past life, she pondered.

Rihanna has been vocal about immigrant rights in the past and takes great pride in her origins.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

The Grammy Award winning singer and entrepreneur has very publicly thrown shade at President Trump over his cruel immigration policies.

Rihanna, who’s been appointed as the ambassador of her native country Barbados, is no stranger to political matters. She sent a cease-and-desist letter to President Donald Trump in early November after he played her music at one of his rallies. She also rejected the opportunity to perform during the Super Bowl LIII in February 2019 out of protest for Colin Kaepernick.

Plus, in an interview with The Cut last year about the word ‘immigrant’, she said: “For me, it’s a prideful word. To know that you can come from humble beginnings and just take over whatever you want to, dominate at whatever you put your mind to. The world becomes your oyster, and there’s no limit. Wherever I go, except for Barbados, I’m an immigrant. I think people forget that a lot of times.”