ACLU Demands CBP, Medical Contractors Be Held Accountable for Serious Violations in Immigration Detention Facilities

November 30, 2023 1:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — In response to a damning new whistleblower complaint around serious medical neglect and government contract violations in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, the American Civil Liberties Union urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Congress today to ensure proper oversight and accountability over CBP and companies contracted to provide medical care to individuals in temporary immigration detention.

“These alarming reports are the latest example of our government’s profound failure to uphold the dignity of people fleeing violence and ensure they receive the medical care they need when they are held in CBP’s dangerous immigration detention centers,” said Eunice Cho, National Prison Project senior staff attorney at the ACLU. “We can’t afford to wait for the next preventable tragedy to occur in CBP detention centers. We urgently need Congress and DHS to conduct robust oversight of CBP, Loyal Source, and any medical care contractors moving forward.”

Advocates have repeatedly raised concerns about the dire conditions at border patrol stations where individuals are screened and processed for release, removal, or transfer to longer term facilities. They have also called for the release of medically vulnerable people in CBP custody to ensure they are not deprived of essential, life-saving medical care. The government’s lack of oversight and medical contractors’ failure to provide adequate medical care has already led to tragic and entirely preventable consequences, including the recent death of Anadith Reyes Alvarez, a medically vulnerable eight-year-old girl, who died earlier this year in CBP detention after she failed to receive adequate care from medical contractor Loyal Source Government Services.

CBP contracting officers have long been aware of serious violations by Loyal Source, yet staff ignored and overrode internal concerns and continued to use Loyal Source for medical care in its detention facilities. The ACLU called on DHS to immediately terminate its use of Loyal Source and ensure that any new contracts, including a $1.5 billion contract currently up for competitive bidding, incorporate measurable, enforceable standards for the provision of medical care.

Among their demands, the ACLU also called on Congress to authorize and allocate funding for increased medical services in local communities and at ports of entry to ensure that people can receive the immediate medical support they need before, during, and after CBP custody.

The ACLU’s letter to Congress is available here.

The ACLU’s letter to DHS is available here.

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