Kyle from Immigration Orange just informed me that on Tuesday August 7th, 2007, Edimar Alves Araujo, a 34 year-old immigrant a Brazilian national, died in federal custody because he was denied access to his medication for his epilepsy. His sister, Irene Araujo, told the Boston Herald his death could have been avoided if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers his medication were not with held from him. On Tuesday, she went to the Woonsocket Police station twice to let police know Araujo suffered from epilepsy and needed to take phenobarbital, an anti-epileptic drug, in the event of a seizure.
Araujo said police refused to take it, saying her brother could tell them if he needed medication. She said a friend tried again to bring the medication to him Wednesday morning, but learned her brother had died.
Paula Grenier, a spokesperson for the ICE Boston office, said that less than an hour after he was transferred to the custody of ICE, Araujo was rushed to the Rhode Island Hospital where he died at 4:18 pm. The media mentioned that during his processing at ICE Detention and Removal Center (DRO) in Providence, he showed signs of physical distress, and immigration agents called 911. However, there is no ICE DRO Office in Providence, RI (link is a screen cap). The only ICE facility is the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center located in Central Falls, RI. On August 1, the facility recently changed owners, for the last 13 years, it was owned by Cornell Corrections. Wyatt’s now belongs to The Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation. Where did they call 911 from, that is what I definitely want to know, was this en route to Wyatt or did this occur at the police station or did this happen at the Detention Center? What is known so far is that Grenier told the Herald that ICE “agents attended to his care while awaiting for the arrival of the EMT.”
We also know his death is also a bit of a mystery too. Irene told the Milford Daily News that he had contacted her twice that day and sounded fine. The first one was shortly after Edmar was stopped by Woonsocket, RI, Police and the second time she talked to him was shortly before he was picked up by ICE. This is not the first time this has occurred under ICE custody. Edmar Araujo is the latest of 63 immigrants to die in administrative custody since 2004, according to Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).
Edmar, was apprehended Tuesday by the Woonsocket Police after a traffic stop. He had lived in Milford, MA since he came here five years ago. Before his arrest, he had gone to Woonsocket to see his sister and visit his brother’s place because he was planning to move in with him. He worked at a gas station and intended to start working as a painter in Woonsocket. Now, know of this will happen. Even sadder, Irene will now have to make that one call no parent ever wants to receive.
The problems of isolation, inhumane conditions, and lack of reliable access to legal counsel and health care that characterize immigration detention in general are particularly problematic, especially for women. In December 2006, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released an audit of five immigrant detention facilities, finding that all five facilities violated some aspect of the detention standards.
The Inspector General reported that detainees had contended that physical, sexual, and verbal abuse by corrections officers was taking place at all five facilities and criticized ICE for not following their own standards in addressing detainee reporting of abuse. The Inspector General also reported that medical personnel did not respond to medical requests from detainees within an appropriate timeframe.
Regarding health care standards, we identified instances of non-compliance at four of the five detention facilities, including timely initial and responsive medical care. Also, we identified environmental health and safety concerns at three of five detention facilities reviewed. We identified instances of non-compliance with ICE Detention Standards regarding general conditions of confinement at the five facilities, including disciplinary policy, classifying detainees, and housing together detainees classified at different security levels. Two facilities also had inadequate inventory controls over detainee funds and personal property.
The lack of health care standards is just the tip of the iceberg, there are reports of detainees being fed spoiled food and detainees suffering from heat exhaustion in detention centers where there are air conditioning problems. Victor Castillo for CBS affiliate KGBT-TV in Harlingen, TX reported that in Willacy detention center in Raymondville, TX, over 30 detainees are complaining about the conditions inside, an allegation confirmed by security guards. Facility security guards have recorded in their logbooks that dozens of undocumented immigrants that have found maggots in their food and nothing is being done to rectify the matter. The guards have also reported that the situation was so bad for one immigrant, he attempted to commit suicide.
The federal detention center located in Raymondville which houses two-thousand undocumented immigrants has received criticism for allegedly feeding detainees contaminated or rotten food.
An action 4 News investigation reveals that in one instance, over 30 detainees reported that the quantity and quality of food are deplorable, an allegation confirmed by at least two security guards.
Castillo has also reported that detainees are denied toiletries to keep their most basic sanitary needs, and that they are not allowed to communicate with the outside world, nevertheless finding an attorney or any kind of legal assistance, which is a clear violation of the ICE Detention Standard for Telephone Access, which states that each facility is required to provide detainees access to telephones so they are are able to have access to legal services, to the consular offices of their native country, and access to the courts.
Moreover, there are reports that people have already fainted because of air conditioning problems, a problem frequently experience during the summer and wintertime. Security guards are concerned that things may get out of hand and that “one of these days … one of these officers is going to hurt a detainee.”
All these atrocities are not just a violation of a person’s basic human rights, but a violation of the standards that were put into place in January 2000 by the Department of Justice through the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the US Marshals Service (USMS), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service – and the Civil Rights Division. According to the Department of Justice, these standards apply to all detention facilities to ensure that detainees are “safe, secure, and such facilities provide the basic services needed by federal detainees.” Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Detention Standards and Compliance Division of the Justice Department to “ensure the adequacy and sufficiency of services provided in non-federal detention facilities that house federal detainees.”
The existing border controls are not just violating a person’s universal human rights, but they are racist and help to legitimize racism. Once again I must ask. How many more atrocities must be committed before any of this madness is brought to an end? How can we see another’s woe and not be in sorrow too? How can we see another’s grief and not seek to ease their pain? How can we see a falling tear, and not feel for their sorrow?