Otay Mesa detainees say shift of health services to private contractor complicates care

After spending the first part of the pandemic in the public spotlight for a large COVID-19 outbreak at Otay Mesa Detention Center, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has contracted out medical care at the facility to the private prison company that owns and operates it.

Detainees interviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune say the medical care, which had already been criticized by them and their advocates, has grown even worse than it was under ICE.

Detainees complained of missed and late medications, multiple-day waits for medical attention and a lack of transfer of records that left staff in the dark about what treatment individual detainees were supposed to be receiving. It has also meant that those who had been approved for specialty care, such as oncology and orthopedics, would have to begin the lengthy process anew.

“The first couple of days, it was chaos,” said Guillermo Alvarez Mendonza, a detainee with

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‘All 12 detainees on the mainland in good health’

The Immigration Department said on Saturday that they have learnt from mainland authorities that the 12 Hong Kong people who are being detained in Shenzhen are in good health, and they are aiding the families who have sought help over the matter.

The mainland coast guard had detained them last month as they tried to flee the city by boat to Taiwan. In a media briefing on Saturday, family members of six of the detainees had raised fear over not being allowed access to the arrested people and blamed the Hong Kong government was helping them.

In a statement issued soon after the families’ briefing, the department said it had taken a proactive approach in dealing with enquiries regarding the detentions.

It said families of ten detainees have sought help from them, and it has contacted the families multiple times and explained mainland laws to them.

The department added that

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