Monday, October 8, 2007

The Death of Victoria Arrellano

From fabulous Drakyn comes this story that he found too upsetting to read. It regards the death of Victoria Arrellano.

From the Washington Post:

In recent months, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of detainees in California, naming ICE and the Division of Immigrant Health Services, which provides care to detainees, among the defendants.

"We've been saying for a long time now that we have serious concerns about the medical care provided to individuals in detention," said Tom Jawetz, a staff lawyer for the ACLU's National Prison Project.

"It's been a closed system for far too long. People are going to continue to die unless changes are made," Jawetz said.

Arellano, a transgender person whose given name was Victor, was the first to die, on July 20. She was detained in May for entering the country illegally for a second time.

During detention in San Pedro, attorneys said, her AIDS treatment lapsed. As she vomited blood, fellow inmates cared for her in vain. She was eventually taken to a San Pedro hospital and died while shackled to a bed, an attorney for the family said.
In mid July, transwoman Victoria Arrellano died in immigrant detention. Arrellano had AIDS, and was living due to the medication she was receiving, however, once detained; she was not given the right medication, although she repeatedly asked to see the doctor. Arrellano knew exactly was her prescription was, in fact, it is well known in the medical field what the treatment for her disease is. She pleaded to her captors for mercy, and was denied. She spent the last weeks of her life begging to live, as her body was ravaged by the virus. Instead of a nurse, her fellow detainees cared for her the best way they could, and they even protested for her right to be treated by chanting "" over and over again. Her being trans was overlooked by the inmates, and the movement that stirred all the detainees to action was that of humanity, which should bind all of us, regardless of our supposed differences. Sadly, even the entire group's voices were ignored, and Victoria passed away in a hospital due to lack of medical treatment.

Arrelano had once been a patient of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center's state of the art AIDS clinic. Lorri L. Jean, the Chief Executive Officer of the Center, stated "Given today's medications, people with HIV at the stage that Victoria was at do not decline that quickly. And I have no doubt in my mind that Victoria died because she was denied the medications that she needed to stay alive". Jean and her staff recently had a meeting with U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) to discuss what happened.

Unfortunately, this outrage is not an isolated incident, in fact, 3 other deaths were reported in the same week in immigration detainment through out the country. There have been over 60 cases (reported) total. But what makes this particular case so strong, is that Arrelano was in detention for weeks, long enough for them to know how to treat her, but instead, she was just shackled to her bed, as she vomited. The appalling and horrendous conditions of the medical treatment of immigrants being held in custody is unconstitutional, and barbaric, and will have to be revised. The lack of standards system responsible for these senseless deaths (one would dare say murders) needs to be examined. There has to be accountability for these tragic losses and the authorities need to enforce action. A independent/public investigation and oversight needs to be done by the federal government on Victoria's death, because an investigation from only the immigrant department will not be sufficient (because they would basically just be doing an investigation on themselves, and we know what that means- are they really going to want to incriminate their own people?!). Pressure needs to be placed on Congress members to protect the human rights of immigrants, even if they are in detention. Yes, many Congress members will find it politically risky to stick up for immigrants, but if enough people urge them to, it will make a difference. Please ask your Congress person to have this case investigated.
I can't add anything to that. Let's make sure Victoria is not forgotten.

Listening to: The Replacements - Alex Chilton
via FoxyTunes