News by VICE

An Immigrant Bleeding from His Eyes, Ears, and Nose Was Treated With Ibuprofen at ICE Detention Center

"I feared I was going to die," he told the Guardian.

by Gaby Del Valle
Oct 9 2019, 6:37pm

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

Two years after surviving a gunshot wound to the head, a Guatemalan asylum-seeker fled to the U.S. as part of the so-called migrant caravan, all while suffering from headaches and possible brain hemorrhaging. Once he made it to America, 27-year-old Rolando was put in immigration detention and given only ibuprofen to treat his headaches, nosebleeds, and constant dizziness, The Guardian reported.

Rolando fled torture and persecution in his country, he told the Guardian, only to end up stranded in Tijuana because of the Trump administration’s metering policy, which limits how many people can ask for asylum at U.S. ports of entry each day. His problems didn’t end when he gained admission into the U.S., where he was transferred to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, run by the private company CoreCivic.

Although Rolando’s health reportedly worsened in detention, he told the Guardian that he was regularly put in solitary confinement and hardly had access to medical staff.

“I feared I was going to die,” Rolando said. “I thought in this country, there is really good medical care… but I wasn’t getting any treatment.”

Rolando’s medical records show that the facility’s staff tried to treat his bleeding eyes, ears, and nose with higher and higher doses ibuprofen, according to the Guardian.

“It seems unbelievable, almost too absurd to be true, but it’s not only documented, it’s the government’s own records,” Anne Rios, an attorney with Al Otro Lado representing Rolando, told the Guardian.

There have been several allegations of medical neglect at the Otay Mesa facility. In February, more than 70 detainees signed on to a letter speaking out against conditions there, in which they alleged they had experienced racism, discrimination, and medical neglect. In 2018, a coalition of immigration advocacy groups released a report finding that substandard medical care contributed to the deaths of eight immigrants in ICE custody between December 2015 and April 2017, including one death at Otay Mesa.

Cover image: In this June 9, 2017, file photo, a vehicle drives into the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego. (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat, File)

San Diego
otay mesa