Sunday, June 01, 2008

Death penalty for an undocumented immigrant

This is simply obscene.

In May 2007, Victoria Arellano, a 23-year-old transgender immigrant from Mexico, was sent to a detention center in San Pedro after being arrested on a traffic charge.

Arellano, who was born a male and had come to the United States illegally as a child, had AIDS at the time of her arrest but exhibited no symptoms of the disease because of the medication she took daily. But once detained, her health began to deteriorate.She lost weight and became sick. She repeatedly pleaded with staff members at the detention center to see a doctor to get the antibiotics she needed to stay alive, according to immigrant detainees with whom Arellano shared a dormitory-style cell. But her requests were routinely ignored.

The task of caring for Arellano fell to her fellow detainees. They dampened their own towels and used them to cool her fever; they turned cardboard boxes into makeshift trash cans to collect her vomit. As her condition worsened, the detainees, outraged that Arellano was not being treated, staged a strike: They refused to get in line for the nightly head count until she was taken to the detention center's infirmary.

Officials relented, and Arellano was sent to the infirmary, then to a hospital nearby. But after two days there -- and after having spent two months at the federally operated facility -- she died of an AIDS-related infection. Her family has taken steps to file a wrongful-death claim against the federal government.

Los Angeles Times,
June 1, 2008

Immigration detainees have almost no rights. And the private contractors that run many detention centers have no incentive to spend money on caring for them. Who knew a Mexican transsexual would have a family that would sue?

California Congressmember Zoe Lofgren has introduced a bill to remedy to remedy some detainee abuses.

Ultimately, if we want these people to serve as our labor force, and we seem to, we need an equitable immigration law.

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