Yesterday Edwidge Danticat was at a press conference where two groups, the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center (FIAC) and Human Rights Watch, registered serious complaints about how immigrants to the U.S. are treated while detained. If you know Danticat’s excellent 2007 book, Brother, I’m Dying, you have a sense of how serious the problem is; her uncle Rev. Joseph Dantica died in the custody of U.S. Customs and Homeland Security officials, who she describes as slow to provide him with medical treatment after he escaped to Miami from Haiti.
Rev. Dantica’s story is at the center of FIAC’s report on the problem, Dying for Decent Care: Bad Medicine in Immigration Custody (PDF); in fact, the report is dedicated to him. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Danticat spoke at the press conference, and that she has little reason to believe American authorities have changed their ways:
“When one has a loved one die in this situation, what you hope for, what you pray for is that it never happens to another family, another child, another loved one,” she said at the press conference. “But it keeps happening again and again.”
Miami New Times, which also covered the press conference, received a release yesterday from an ICE spokesperson, which said that new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is on the case and laid out some baseline medical practices regarding immigrant detentions.