Monday, August 19, 2019

ICE vs. Access to Basic Human Rights

Across the country, ICE agents are chilling our system of access to justice by executing arrests of immigrant litigants as they attempt to attend their court dates in state courts.  In June, a federal district judge in Massachusetts preliminarily enjoined the practice, opining that it violated a common law privilege against civil courthouse arrests that is incorporated into the judicial system..  Not willing to alter their policies in the face of considerable nationwide opposition, including from state prosecutors, the US Government has now appealed that ruling to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, another example of chilling access to human rights is playing out at and near the US southern border.  In June, Physicians for Human Rights published a sobering account of the impact of aggressive ICE actions on those seeking medical care:  "Not in My Exam Room."  Describing the many ways in which ICE actions -- parking lot and ambulance searches, shackling, surveillance in examination rooms -- compromise patient care, this essay notes:

"The right to non-discriminatory access to medical care is [. . .] well established under international human rights law. Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”  The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights codified the “right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”  The treaty requires signatories, which include the United States, to take steps necessary to assure that all persons have access to medical services.[ Implicit in this right is the concept of non-discrimination. Health care is especially vital for vulnerable or marginalized populations and must be accessible without regard to social or immigration status."

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