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A day in the life of an immigrant detainee

Hundreds of immigrants are being held in detention facilities across the country awaiting decisions on their immigration status. But when they are suddenly plucked from their communities and disappear, many Americans are unaware of the trauma they’ll endure before being sent back to their birth country.

Families of detained immigrants, former detainees, and nonpartisan investigators have reported abhorrent living conditions and inhumane treatment in the facilities. They claim that criminal prisons are a dream in comparison to detention facilities. Tragically, the conditions and fear of deportation have led to suicide. In total, 179 immigrant detainees have lost their lives while in immigration custody since 2003.

Here is a look at the experiences that many immigrants face when they’re brought to a detention center.

Inadequate medical care

A number of investigations and reports have shown that immigrants are routinely denied basic medical care and treatment. If they are provided with medication, they aren’t receiving the proper dosage. And when detainees file a grievance or request medical care, they can be placed in solitary confinement.

The lack of proper medical care, use of solitary confinement and inhumane living conditions can cause otherwise healthy individuals to develop a mental or physical illness. This can ultimately contribute to suicide.

Living conditions

The number of atrocious living conditions that have been reported in detention facilities is seemingly endless. Staff provide them with dirty water or sometimes no water at all. They have been served maggot-infested food and unable to access fresh air. Detainees only receive three pairs of underwear each week while simultaneously being denied access restrooms. The facilities are reportedly so filthy that even dog owners would think twice before allowing their pet to live there, let alone their fellow human beings.

Appallingly, detainees are forced to live in the facilities indefinitely, sometimes even years and denied the right to legal counsel. There’s no doubt that the barbarous conditions and treatment they endure only exacerbate a detainee’s mental anguish. Incidents like these are making some ask themselves – should America modify the Pledge of Allegiance to read “justice for some” considering recent events?

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