Much has been written and discussed in the past few weeks regarding the medical care of detainees held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. I don’t know how to avoid coming off as an insensitive, cold and heartless human being in coming to the defense of ICE and the management of its detainee health care program but I’ll give it a try.
I would be the first to agree that the ICE health care program is less than perfect. I don’t think there is even a debate on that point. The current system has come a long way in twenty years but still needs improvement. ICE should elicit the help of the medical community and accreditation bodies so they can continue to provide an appropriate level of health care to those they detain. I have no doubt that they will consult with these entities because contrary to what has been said, the professional staff managing these programs do care about delivering a level of service that is second to none in this industry.
What I find ludicrous is the notion that you should introduce legislation to create federal standards for detainee medical care and provisions to continue their health care after they are removed from the United States. Why should the U.S. taxpayer be responsible for the medical care of any person placed in removal proceedings?
My family and I don’t receive free medical care from the U.S. government; I have to pay for it. I think a lot of others would agree with this premise.
Let me be perfectly clear, I’m not advocating for treating people inhumanely. ICE certainly has a responsibility to provide safe and humane environment for those they detain. Having a detainee pay for their continued medical care while in custody is not a new idea. Today, right here in the U.S., there are county and local detention facilities that do just that.
If there is going to be a standard level of health care for immigration detainees it should be the same standard that applies to you and I, not a higher one.