NPR: Internal ICE Reviews Of Two Immigrant Deaths Stoke Fears About COVID-19 Care

May 1, 2020

Bonilla v. Hudson County, Coronavirus, Health Justice, Health in Immigration Detention, Immigrant Justice, News

NPR covered NYLPI’s recent “Still Detained and Denied” report and its pending federal litigation in a piece examining an internal investigation by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following the death of Carlos Mejia-Bonilla. He was denied life-saving medical treatment while detained at Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey. NPR reported that ICE found that he was denied necessary medical care and that the care he did receive was “outside the scope of safe practice.” NYLPI and pro bono partner Dechert LLP represent Mr. Bonilla’s family in a civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey arising out of Mr. Bonilla’s wrongful death.


Internal ICE Reviews Of Two Immigrant Deaths Stoke Fears About COVID-19 Care

April 29, 2020
Heard on All Things Considered
Joel Rose

Immigrant advocates say conditions in ICE detention make detainees particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and note that people with underlying health conditions may be more at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The two detainees who died three years ago had severe pre-existing medical conditions.

“They’re held in very crowded conditions in a setting that is designed for control, but certainly not for hygiene or to prevent transmission of an infectious disease,” said Dr. Nathaniel Kratz, an instructor at Columbia University and a physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Kratz has evaluated detainees at the Hudson County jail and other ICE detention facilities through his work with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which this week published its own report on conditions in ICE facilities.

“I can also speak to the substandard levels of medical care and attention that they received there,” Kratz said, which is “deeply concerning given the current crisis.”


“Our concern is that this virus is spreading and these are facilities that have a history of not meeting the medical needs of the people being detained,” said Amber Khan, director of health justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

The group has sued Hudson County on behalf of Bonilla’s family. Khan says conditions in ICE detention have not improved since 2017, when Bonilla died.

“What we’ve seen overall in these facilities … is a really serious and worsening condition for what folks are facing,” Khan said. “And that is denial of medical care, overcrowding, a refusal of basic health-related needs.”

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