AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were in Longmont last Wednesday to take custody of undocumented immigrant Roberto Gutierrez Hernandez who has a criminal record.

Roberto Gutierrez Hernandez (credit: Gutierrez Hernandez family)

“He’s been in country for about 19 years now. He was arrested as he was leaving to his car in the morning,” said Gutierrez Hernandez’s son, Robert.

His father was taken to the ICE detention facility in Aurora. The facility is run by the private contractor GEO.

(credit: CBS)

The son was one of more than a dozen who gathered outside the building on Monday to complain about health care practices happening inside.

“He is in pretty bad shape from the moment, and yesterday we got a call from him saying ‘My head is filling up with liquid,'” Robert said.

Robert Gutierrez (credit: CBS)

Just a few hundred yards away inside the detention center, detainees, like Carlos, spoke by phone to reporters about their medical concerns.

“Health care here is nonexistent. You have to see a doctor for everything, and they only got two or three doctors,” he said.

Others complained of long waits for treatment, that the food is inadequate and that people are having diabetic seizures.

(credit: CBS)

When CBS4 recently toured the detention center, cameras were not allowed. ICE officials stood up for the cleanliness and health care provided to those awaiting court or deportation.

But those like Robert Gutierrez say they need the same attention they got at home.

“He suffers from various medical conditions. He needs medical attention possibly every day.”

There have been outbreaks of diseases here blamed on those transferred from the U.S.-Mexican border. The detainees and families want to see those problems stopped.

On Monday evening U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shared the following statement with CBS4:

The medical program at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility provides 24/7 medical services; is supported by a team of medical professionals that includes a full-time physician, a full-time physician’s assistant, a cadre of nursing services, dentist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and additional medical specialists, as well as referrals to local hospitals as needed; and is fully accredited by the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.

ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care. ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care. Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody. Staffing includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers that include a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner, a physician, dental care, and access to 24-hour emergency care. Pursuant to our commitment to the welfare of those in the agency’s custody, ICE spends more than $269M annually on the spectrum of healthcare services provided to those in our care.

On the recent media tour we pointed out the presence of a poster located in each room that details how to report violence, sexual assault and other issues. Detainees are reminded of these procedures regularly.

Posters showing where ICE detainees may submit complaints are prominently displayed throughout all ICE detention facilities. ICE detainees may submit complaints to the following:

Director, Office of Professional Responsibility
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
P.O. Box 14475
Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20044

Or

The Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General:
DHS Office of Inspector General/MAIL STOP 0305
Attn: Office of Investigations – Hotline
245 Murray Lane SW
Washington, DC 20528-0305
Call: 1-800-323-8603
Fax: 202-254-4297

Rick Sallinger

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