Death of Immigrant in Detention Center Prompts Renewed Criticism

February 9, 1999 12:00 am

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NEW YORK, NY — Following the death of a Dominican man at a detention center in Manhattan, civil liberties groups and advocates for immigrants are once again raising questions about the conditions in which immigrants are held, both in the New York region and elsewhere across the country, The New York Times reported today.

According to the Times, authorities said that a month-long series of tests revealed that Miguel A. Valoy-Nunez, a seemingly healthy 40-year-old awaiting deportation, died of pneumonia and a viral infection just days after he complained of chest pain and a consistent cough. The paper said that nurses treated him for a cold and he was never seen by a doctor.

This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about a detention center. A 1992 study of the Varick Street center in New York by the New York Civil Liberties Union found medical care there deficient.

“The question is, what kind of system is there in place to avoid this sort of thing from happening again?” Judy Rabinovitz, an attorney from the ACLU told the New York Times. “Does someone have to die for us to see some kind of a reaction?”

The fact that Mr. Valoy-Nunez died from a treatable disease prompted advocates to renew their complaints not only against how the Immigration and Naturalization Service treats detainees, but also the practice of detention itself, said the Times.

Source: The New York Times, February 9, 1999

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