Into the Abyss: Mortality and Morbidity Among Detained Immigrants


The lack of transparency in immigration detention in the United States has contributed to serious concerns about the fate of immigrants who are detained in the United States and require medical care. In particular, deficiencies in initial screening, chronic disease management (including referral to outside care), and pain management of detainees have been identified by numerous governmental and nongovernmental groups. We have identified a number of detainee deaths and poor medical outcomes that are related to substandard medical care and suggest system-wide problems in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) health care. This article provides an overview of the current ICE health care system, presents four cases of detainee deaths and independent reporting of similar systemic problems, and recommends several specific changes to the ICE health care system.