Nearly 2,300 children have been separated from their parents as a result of President Donald Trump draconian “zero tolerance” policy. Details from child immigration centers revealed the ugly realities of the Trump administration’s brutal immigration practice.
The move called for widespread criticism from across the border and as a result of mounting pressure, Trump put a stop to the policy. However, those who were detained, remain to be detained.
U.S. authorities transferred around 1,000 of those detainees to federal prison complex in Victorville, California. Staff members at the facility raised concerns that thedetention center doesn’t have adequate medical services.
Employees feared the inadequate services could worsen health conditions and could even possibly lead to deaths of detainees. It was also reported that the number of infectious diseases among the detainees has multiplied.
The lack of medical assistance led to a disease outbreak and at least ten cases of scabies and one case chickenpox was reported. The numbers are also feared to multiply.
The outbreak is so bad that employees at the prison have created a “chickenpox unit” and a “scabies unit” to keep those infected away from the rest of the detainees.
Staff members of the detention facility told the Huffington Post that if the medical conditions continued to worsen in the same way, there could be a possible riot. It is also feared that the riot would endanger staff and detainees.
“I think rioting or hurting staff unfortunately could be just around the corner,” said a staffer.
Before the additional detainees were sent to the Mojave Desert prison, staff members had raised concerns with authorities. However, no measures were taken and the concerns were not addressed. No additional staff was hired to help the new detainees.
John Kostelnik, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3969, added that the detainees and inmates are both at risk of danger due to the disease outbreak and the lack of enough staff.
“This is such a damn sh**show. This could have been prevented. We’re not doing it right. The simple fact that these detainees still don’t have shower shoes, I can’t stop shaking my head. Containment is my main concern when it comes to the medical issues. If you don’t contain it, it’s not going to stop.” he said.
Kostelnikadded, “When you put a thousand of these guys into an institution, [improper medical care is] not just going to be magnified ? it’s going to blow up. It’s only a matter of time before we end up with a really bad riot or an inmate attacking a staffer, and the support staff isn’t there as they’re focused on these detainees.”
For the total 4,500 detainees at the prison, only two doctors are available and several nurses along with physician assistants needed in the health care team are also missing.
Victorville is not the only area where additional detainees are intensifying the problem. Similar situation is faced by The Sheridan federal prison in northwest Oregon. The prison was given an additional 120 detainees and is also reportedly short-staffed.
Travis Ray, AFGE Local 3979 president and a prison officer, said he was notified only 24 hours before the detainees arrived. He also added that the prison facility was short staffed to address the additional detainees.
The detainees’ clothes are also not washed for over a week, which increases risks of infection. The prison also has not supplied shower shoes to the inmates, which is a breach of protocol. ICE has brought a phone translation system to combat the language barrier but staff says it’s very rudimentary and not sufficient for detailed medical discussions.
Eric Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals, also feared that a riot might break out soon.
“If you already have inadequate medical staff predominantly at all facilities and then bring in 1,000 inmates ? that equates to a recipe for disaster to me,” the union president told HuffPost. “Inmates complaining about inadequate medical care results in somebody getting killed.”
The conditions at the detention facilities are so dire that an existing inmate, not a new immigrant detainee, committed suicide and died on June 19.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Loren Elliott