After complaining of horrible abdominal pain for about six months, a West African woman being held at the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence was finally admitted into the hospital. According to her lawyer an ultrasound revealed an extremely large cyst.
During the months that she waited for medical care, rather than providing her the care she needed, she was advised by officials to exercise and watch her diet.
This is one of several cases documented in a study conducted by the Southwest Institute of Research on Women and the James E. Rogers College of Law, at the University of Arizona, which looked at three federal immigration centers in Arizona and the care that women in the facilities received.
According to the study, there are delays in health care and mistreatment of women in the facilities. These delays in treatment included delays in cancer treatment as well as lack of prenatal care, among others.
One woman from the report, Ana, was six months pregnant while in the detention center. She was given a top bed bunk despite her condition, and denied prenatal vitamins—circumstances which had the potential to affect her babies’ health. Other women also talked about suffering from miscarriages while in the facilities.
While the study has been criticized by federal immigration officials, there are many other reports of such treatment that mean it’s very likely they are based in truth. If anything it just adds to the reasons why the inspectors general’s office at the Department of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office have been putting more pressure on detention centers to improve the conditions of their facilities.
While many believe that these occurrences are rare, it appears that they are not unusual.
“We were pretty shocked to learn about all the ways in which life is made endlessly difficult for these women,” says Ms. Rabin, an immigration lawyer who led the study.
Contributed by Angela Donadic, Policy and Advocacy Fellow