A first-of-its kind class action lawsuit in federal court was filed against the Trump administration on Monday, claiming official policies and lack of oversight related to the border and immigration crisis have led to major lapses in medical and mental health care in nearly 160 detention facilities across the country. This has been a topic of much controversy of late as various reports have emerged over the past year about how horrific the conditions are at many detention facilities. Detainees with medical and mental health conditions and those with disabilities face settings so brutal, including delays and denials of medical care, overuse of solitary confinement and lack of disability accommodations, they have led to permanent harm and 24 deaths in the last two years, according to a portion a 200 page complaint.
Other suits have been filed on behalf of individuals in immigration detention and against conditions at specific facilities. But Monday’s lawsuit, filed in U.S District Court for the Central District of California, is one of the first arguing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is deliberately and systematically denying care to about 55,000 migrants in custody at county jails and at both privately and publicly run detention centers. Attorneys, advocates and current and former immigration officials say that detainees have long faced treatment delays and lack of care, especially in rural facilities. But they say the problems have been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s focus on boosting the number of migrants in detention. That population has grown more than 60 percent over the past two years, without additional staff or resources for health care. Infectious diseases, like outbreaks of mumps and chickenpox, that were previously rare have also spiked in overcrowded facilities.
ICE failed to maintain records and persistently ignored internal oversight and Government Accountability Office reports calling out deficiencies in medical and mental health care that led to deaths, according to the lawsuit. The agency continues to work with private medical providers that have faced numerous lawsuits and accusations of serious medical neglect, according to the complaint.