Immigration & Naturalization Law

Lack of Health Care Access and Dangers to Health in Immigration Detention Centers

When the Trump administration unveiled plans to deport unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants from the United States, many people were understandably worried. Since then, immigration attorneys and human rights advocates have expressed concern about conditions in detention centers, especially when it comes to health care.

There are many layers to this issue. Physical barriers prevent doctors and nurses from assessing the health problems of people in detention centers. Language barriers, along with stress and fear, make it difficult for those detained to get help. Immigration attorneys can help shed light on the situation and provide a voice for people whose human rights are at stake.

Health Concerns for Children

The lack of hygiene in detention centers puts children at risk of contracting diseases, including viruses they may not have had vaccines for yet. Children tend to get sick more easily than adults, and their condition can reach a dangerous place more quickly. Children have died of the flu, infections, and pneumonia while in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol.

There also could be long-term physical and mental health impacts on children who spend time in detention facilities. Cold temperatures, bright lights 24 hours a day, and other extreme conditions make sleep difficult. The effects on a child could be permanent if they spend too long in these conditions.

Health Concerns For Women and Pregnant People

Women are at especially high risk in immigration detention centers. They have experienced sexual abuse and harassment and frequently have a hard time accessing feminine hygiene products. Individuals who are pregnant aren't able to obtain prenatal care. Given the facts above, it's easy to assume that it is difficult for detainees to access reproductive care like birth control.

Health Care Standards and Access to Adequate Health Care

Throughout the world, health care is considered a human right. Anyone who enters the country — whether illegally or not — is a human being. Detention centers should be:

  • Completing intake assessments
  • Providing continued care for chronic conditions
  • Ensuring timely treatment of medical issues
  • Overcoming language barriers
  • Incorporating specialized or off-site treatment
  • Managing mental health
  • Providing proper pain treatment

Topics of Focus for Future Advocacy

Immigration issues are not going away any time soon, but as long as detention centers exist, there will be concerns about the treatment of detainees and whether they get access to quality health care. Immigrants need access to legal services, as well as adequate health care. Speaking with an immigration attorney today may make it easier for someone inside a detention center to get the help they need.