Nelson Francisco Perdomo-Vaidez’s left arm gives him such intense pins-and-needles pain that he can’t sleep, and it swells and turns purple if it isn’t kept elevated. At least two doctors agree that he needs to see a specialist or he will face serious risks of complications — including losing functionality in his hand and arm.
But Perdomo-Vaidez isn’t getting this care. He has been detained by ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — and is currently being held at Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Ga. Both ICE and the facility are refusing to provide him with the access to specialists and medical care he needs to avoid having a long term loss of functionality in his arm.
A journalist from The New Yorker went to visit him just a few weeks ago, documenting his condition and receiving independent verification from a doctor that Perdomo-Vaidez needs care — and fast.
But ICE officials disagree. A spokesperson for ICE told The New Yorker that he is receiving “all appropriate and necessary medical treatment while in ice custody.” All appropriate medical care?
Perdomo-Vaidez gets 800 milligrams of acetaminophen each day. That’s it. A person’s arm does not swell and turn purple, leaving someone in excruciating pain, when they are receiving adequate medical care.
Earlier this year, two people died while in ICE custody in Georgia facilities. Both deaths were completely preventable. But officials at ICE were likely too busy providing “all appropriate and necessary medical treatment” to the two detainees when they died.
A report from Project South released in May details horrendous conditions in Georgia’s two biggest detention facilities: Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin and Irwin in Ocilla.
Over the course of a one year investigation, Project South documented medical neglect, hunger and sexual abuse in these facilities, and found that the response of both ICE and the private corporations that run these facilities were entirely inadequate. Perdomo-Vaidez’s case highlights just how disturbing and reckless their neglect is, and the perilous situation folks detained in these facilities are in.
Both the United Nations, federal law, and ICE’s own policies prohibit these sorts of atrocious practices. And yet these facilities are allowed to persist, and the people detained inside them are left with no options.
Project South recommends four major policy changes based on their findings, ones that might prevent someone else from being in Perdomo-Vaidez’s situation.
- Shut down the Stewart and Irwin detention centers;
- ICE needs to implement policies that will hold contract facilities accountable for not complying with ICE standards;
- ICE should terminate contracts with facilities that do not meet its standards; and,
- ICE should use the Alternative to Detention Program for immigrants who are eligible.
In addition, Project South also recommends that changes be made to address the horrendous abuses that stem from lack of meaningful due process, lack of adequate medical care, and poor sanitary conditions. The full report is available here.
Perdomo-Vaidez should not be suffering due to medical neglect. That is inhumane. These facilities are allowing people to suffer and die — all to keep beds full and federal dollars flowing — and that is unacceptable.