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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Reports: Immigrants Dying for Decent Care

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009   

Immigrants are, literally, dying for decent care, according to two new reports that portray the medical care system for U.S. immigration detainees as dangerously inadequate.

The reports, from the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center and Human Rights Watch, call on the federal government to stop locking up immigrants who are not considered dangerous; improve medical care for those jailed; and increase oversight of all detention centers.

The groups' research indicates Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) systematically denied, delayed, and denigrated medical care, causing unnecessary suffering and even death, according to Meghan Rhoad, a Human Rights Watch researcher.

"The detention system routinely subjects women to suffering and humiliation. It is a system that needlessly shackles pregnant women with no criminal background, that ignores requests for care, and does all of this with impunity."

Immigrant detainees are the fastest-growing jail population, adds Cheryl Little, founder of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, although most have committed no crime.

"These are people who have lived here for years - worked hard, paid taxes, have U.S. citizen children, in some cases, have U.S. citizen spouses - and the vast majority have broken no criminal law."

After living and working legally in the United States for 27 years, most recently at Florida Atlantic University, Marlene Jaggernauth was arrested by ICE. Held for more than a year, she was separated from her four young children. The conditions she saw in detention were deplorable, she says - and when she complained, she was placed in solitary confinement.

"We felt truly helpless and frightened. Our requests for care would just be ignored. I saw a great deal of suffering and it was very heartbreaking."

In response to the reports, an ICE spokesperson says the agency is committed to humane and safe treatment of detainees, and spends nearly $100 million annually to achieve those goals. But more than 400,000 immigrants were detained in 2008, and Rhoad says this year's estimate is 440,000, at a total cost to taxpayers of almost $1.7 billion per year.

The reports are available online at www.fiacfl.org or www.hrw.org.



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