We Must Treat Hospitalized Migrants Like Felons To Keep America Great
Video screenshot, KZTV

As Donald Trump lies about his great job of forcing Mexico to accept border security measures it agreed to months ago, the New York Times reports on yet another aspect of the New Cruelty in action: When undocumented immigrants in Border Patrol custody need hospital treatment, they're routinely treated as if they were dangerous felons. They're shackled to beds, watched over constantly by Border Patrol agents -- sometimes during medical treatment -- and not even allowed to use the restroom alone. Agents also pressure medical staff to discharge patients so they can get packed into overcrowded detention facilities, because what is this, the Hilton for illegals?

For instance, there's this charming story of a pregnant Guatemalan asylum-seeker who was arrested in the desert, dehydrated and in early labor and at risk of losing her baby. At Banner-University Medical Center Tucson,

The agents remained in the obstetrics ward night and day as physicians worked to halt her labor. They were present during her medical examinations, listened in on conversations with doctors and watched her ultrasounds, Mr. Rahimian said. They kept the television on loud, interfering with her sleep.

Once the agents started pressuring the docs to release her, a medical student, unsure of what to do, called an immigration lawyer to see if the woman had any rights at all; the Times notes that, eventually, "medical providers at the hospital persuaded officials to allow her to be discharged to a respite center run by the Casa Alitas program of Catholic Community Services."

In other cases, the story notes, detainees don't get the long-term or follow-up care doctors say they need, and sometimes la migra won't even let doctors inform family members of the condition of patients in critical condition. And isn't this a fun strategy: Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement often make a point of parking their vehicles near the entrances of hospitals, just as a reminder to any undocumented migrants that seeking health care could get them deported. And then of course there's the pressure to discharge patients as soon as possible, so they can be put back in detention, and maybe have their meds taken from them.

Not surprisingly, the Times points out,

Doctors typically do not know what rights they might have to challenge these practices. At Banner and several other hospital systems across the country, they have called on administrators to oppose and change security measures that they view as endangering health.

It doesn't help a whole hell of a lot that many of the hospitals -- like Banner, which operates 28 hospitals nationwide -- don't make any distinctions between immigration detainees and convicts, so everybody is subject to being treated like a serial killer brought straight from maximum security. Banner's policy

disallows bathroom privileges, requires at least two limbs to be secured to beds unless medically inadvisable, gives agents discretion over whether mothers may visit newborns and obliges law enforcement officers to remain with patients.

That sort of treatment appears to be the norm, too, although one Tucson doctor, family medicine physician Patricia Lebensohn, has been asking the hospital to change the policy, saying the

constant supervision in a patient's room "makes sense if you have a prisoner that's convicted of murder, but this is a different population, especially the asylum seekers." She added, "They're not criminals."

Which just goes to show how even doctors are traitors who don't love America enough to get tough at the border.

Then there's this story of keeping America safe from invasion by a cancer patient held in a private detention facility in Texas. The man was

admitted to a public hospital accompanied by two guards from the GEO Group, the private contractor for the immigration detention facility where he was being held. Doctors came to believe that guards were texting parts of their conversations with the patient to someone outside the hospital.

The patient told his doctors that he feared speaking in the earshot of the guards, who, unlike local police officers, refused to step outside during examinations. As the man lay shackled to his hospital bed by both wrists and ankles and at his waist, the skin on his back began to ulcerate. Doctors said they felt intimidated and powerless.

"His treatment by the guards limited and challenged the ethical care of a patient by the physicians," Dr. Judy Levison said at a board meeting for the Harris Health System, which operates the Texas hospital where he was treated.

GEO Group, you'll recall, is one of the nation's biggest private prison companies, and one of the top beneficiaries of the Trump administration's reversal of the Obama administration's decision to stop housing federal prisoners in for-profit prisons. The company donated heavily to trump, and made a point of holding events at Trump resorts. Talk about return on investment!

And yes, despite a federal policy saying hospitals are "sensitive locations" where immigrants probably shouldn't be arrested, arrests in the ER sometimes happen, as the story notes. A Mexican migrant brought to Banner-University Medical Center Tucson after being bitten by a rattlesnake was arrested in the ER, then shackled to a bed in the ICU. Cameron Jones, a volunteer from the migrant aid group No More Deaths, said the man's wife, Julinna, was also blocked from visiting him:

Barred from Oscar's room, Julinna later asked nurses, who appeared jittery, about his condition. A doctor arrived. "She looked at the Border Patrol agent and asked if it was O.K. for her to tell the family the update she had to tell," said Mr. Jones, who was present for the exchange. The agent looked baffled, but assented.

"Everyone was treating him like he was in charge," Mr. Jones said of the agent. "He was the person with the gun."

Jones, who had called paramedics to take the man to the ER in the first place, should probably shut up and not cause trouble, because couldn't arranging for a snakebit Mexican to get in an ambulance be considered human trafficking? America is being invaded, and the fact that any of these people are getting healthcare at all is very upsetting to the America First crowd in the NYT comments. That's what you get for allowing comments, a mistake Yr Wonkette will never make.

And then there's this fine example of just one more effect of not treating healthcare as a human right in the USA:

Sometimes, American hospitals send immigrant patients who are not in custody to hospitals in their countries of origin. Known as medical deportation, the practice occurs because immigrants without documentation — and even some who are legally present in the country — are ineligible for most federally funded health insurance benefits. When these patients experience catastrophic injuries or illnesses and cannot afford long-term care or rehabilitation, hospitals incurring the expenses have limited options.

Don't let Trump know -- he'll call for migrants to be injected with Ebola so they can be deported as cost containment risks.

Finally, there's this story of a vigilant Border Patrol agent going above and beyond the call of duty to keep America safe, at another Tucson hospital:

A medical student, Claire Lamneck, said she had seen an armed agent watching a teenage mother breast-feed her baby at Diamond Children's Medical Center in Tucson. "The agent was sitting across from her, just staring at her chest," Ms. Lamneck said. He refused to leave the room until a physician persuaded him.

Given that Donald Trump's nominee to head ICE says he can tell just by looking at refugee kids which ones will end up deadly MS-13 gang members, we're sure the Border Patrol guy can similarly spot telltale evidence of gang affiliation by looking at a teenage girl's boobs. You never know what kind of contraband she may have been trying to smuggle.

Remember, the real outrage here isn't a border cop leering at a breastfeeding teen mom. It's that her baby, if it was born north of the border (the Times doesn't say) is a US citizen.

[NYT Image: screenshot of video by KZTV]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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