Washington, D.C. – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) recently introduced H.R. 5950, the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008, which would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish procedures for the timely and effective delivery of medical and mental health care to all immigration detainees. The procedures mandated by the bill must take into account all detainee health needs, including primary care, emergency care, chronic care, prenatal care, dental care, eye care, mental health care, medical dietary needs, and other medically-necessary specialized care. The bill would also require the Secretary to report all detainee deaths to the Inspector Generals of both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) within 48 hours. Additionally, the Secretary would be required to submit a report to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives containing detailed information regarding the death of all immigration detainees in the Secretary’s custody during the preceding fiscal year.
“This legislation will help guarantee that minimal standards for care are put into place,” noted Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “We are not talking about Cadillac health care here, but the government is obligated to provide basic care. Many of those in immigration custody are there for minor violations, many for administrative and paperwork related mistakes. Their detention should not be a death sentence.”
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Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is serving her seventh term in Congress representing most of the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County. She serves as Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. She also Chairs the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections and serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. Congresswoman Lofgren is Chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation consisting of 34 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives from California.