Today, the New York Times reported that Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, a 33-year-old computer engineer from New York, died August 6, 2008, while in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
[W]hen Mr. Ng, who had overstayed a visa years earlier, went to immigration headquarters in Manhattan last summer for his final interview for a green card, he was swept into immigration detention and shuttled through jails and detention centers in three New England states.
In April, Mr. Ng began complaining of excruciating back pain. By mid-July, he could no longer walk or stand. And last Wednesday, two days after his 34th birthday, he died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a Rhode Island hospital, his spine fractured and his body riddled with cancer that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for months.
Mr. Ng’s death comes during a time where ICE and DHS have come under scrutiny following complaints of sub-par medical treatment and accusations of human rights violations. The Times further describes the type of negligence alleged by Mr. Ng’s lawyers, who say Ng’s treatment amounted to torture.
In federal court affidavits, Mr. Ng’s lawyers contend that when he complained of severe pain that did not respond to analgesics, and grew too weak to walk or even stand to call his family from a detention pay phone, officials accused him of faking his condition. They denied him a wheelchair and refused pleas for an independent medical evaluation.
Instead, the affidavits say, guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., dragged him from his bed on July 30, carried him in shackles to a car, bruising his arms and legs, and drove him two hours to a federal lockup in Hartford, where an immigration officer pressured him to withdraw all pending appeals of his case and accept deportation.
“For this desperately sick, vulnerable person, this was torture,” said Theodore N. Cox, one of Mr. Ng’s lawyers, adding that they want to see a videotape of the transport made by guards.
Of course, Mr. Ng’s case isn’t the first to expose the negligence in medical treatment under ICE detention:
In March, the federal government admitted medical negligence in the death of Francisco Castaneda, 36, a Salvadoran whose cancer went undiagnosed in a California detention center as he was repeatedly denied a biopsy on a painful penile lesion. In May, The New York Times chronicled the death of Boubacar Bah, 52, a Guinean tailor who suffered a skull fracture and brain hemorrhages in the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey; records show he was left in an isolation cell without treatment for more than 13 hours.