Friday, October 19, 2012 at 6 a.m.
Federal officials are poised to deport a diabetic man this afternoon, despite a doctor's insistence that he get a surgical procedure so he doesn't go blind, local immigration activists say.
The case concerns an Ecuadorian man named Miguel Castillo-Santos
, who was detained this past January at the Broward Transitional Center. His lawyer claims that the feds failed to provide adequate medical care, which resulted in Castillo-Santos developing a painful and dangerous eye condition.
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance says that while at BTC, Castillo-Santos was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness among American adults.
The doctor recommended that he get a vitrectomy, a surgical procedure in which blood is removed from the center of the eye to restore and maintain vision. While Castillo-Santos, a low-priority immigration case, agreed to the undergo the procedure, ICE removed him from BTC last Friday and sent him to Louisiana, according to the letter. He is slated to be sent back to Ecuador later today, the group says.
Accompanying the email was a stay of deportation filed by an attorney representing Castillo-Santos. The attorney claims that "due to improper medical treatment while detained at the Broward Transitional Center...the diabetes is causing [Castillo-Santos] to lose his eyesight." The attorney claims that the eye doctor ordered Castillo-Santos to have the surgery before his removal to Ecuador.
"ICE has full knowledge the Miguel requires the surgical eye procedure before his removal," the letter fro NIYA says. "The documentation of this fact is in their hands. To continue with his removal at this time before the completion of this surgery would be a serious violation of human rights."
A request for comment from an agency spokesman was not immediately answered. ICE typically cannot comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns.
Updated on Monday, October 22: ICE spokesman Nestor Yglesias provided the following comment: ICE removed Miguel Castillo-Santos to Ecuador Friday. An immigration judge revoked Mr. Castillo-Santos' Lawful Permanent Resident status and ordered him removed from the United States following his felony conviction for grand theft in February 2001. The ICE Health Service Corps conducted a thorough review, including an assessment by ICE's top medical official in Washington, D.C., prior to Mr. Castillo-Santos' removal. Mr. Castillo-Santos' removal was determined to be consistent with ICE policy. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, ICE is precluded from commenting further on Mr. Castillo-Santos' medical history without his express written consent.