IN OTHER WORDS
In cold blood:
The government has a duty to provide decent, effective, timely medical care to people in its custody. That should be beyond debate, but not when the government in question is the Bush administration and the people in custody are illegal immigrants. Not many know the names of detained immigrants like Boubacar Bah of Guinea and Francisco Castaneda of El Salvador. Bah died after falling and fracturing his skull; his injuries went untreated for more than 14 hours. Castaneda died because the diagnosis and treatment of his cancer was tragically delayed. They, and dozens of others, should be memorialised as victims of a system scarred by malign neglect.
Representative Zoe Lofgren, the House subcommittee’s chairwoman and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey have sponsored the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, which would go far to provide the basic protections that failed Bah and Castaneda. The bill would impose more rigorous standards on the network of more than 300 publicly and privately run prisons that make up the federal system. Congress should swiftly pass the bill, putting aside the poisoned debate over illegal immigration. Whether immigrants are legal or illegal has nothing to do with their right to humane care. As Lofgren put it: “You are not supposed
to kill people who are in custody.” — The New York Times