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Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS)

Self Description

June 2007: "The Division's relationship with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), dates back to 1891 when the Immigration Act authorized the Public Health Service to examine and quarantine aliens at Ellis Island. The Division of Immigration Health Service (DIHS) provides a nationwide clinical operations function within the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) responding to specifications of inter-service agreements with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide or arrange health care services for undocumented migrants detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Funds managed by this billet total more than $70.2 million. This includes $40.2 million for direct operations and $30 million allocated for medical claims in FY 05.

The DIHS health care system is a complex system that includes several distinct activities and services required by DHS to support the enforcement of immigration law and maintain national security..."

Third-Party Descriptions

July 2008: "The agency says that since it was created in 2003, 1.5 million people have been held in its detention facilities nationwide, and all are provided taxpayer-financed medical treatment by the Division of Immigration Health Services at a cost of more than $360 million a year."

May 2008: "If the government wants a detainee to be sedated, a deportation officer asks for permission for a medical escort from the aviation medicine branch of the Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS), the agency responsible for medical care for people in immigration custody. A mental health official in aviation medicine is supposed to assess the detainee's medical records, although some records contain no evidence of that happening. If the sedatives are approved, a U.S. public health nurse is assigned as the medical escort and given prescriptions for the drugs."

May 2008: "No one in the Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS), the agency responsible for detainee medical care, has a firm grip on the number of mentally ill among the 33,000 detainees held on any given day, records show. But in confidential memos, officials estimate that about 15 percent -- about 4,500 -- are mentally ill, a number that is much higher than the public ICE estimate. The numbers are rising fast, memos reveal, as state mental institutions and prisons transfer more people into immigration detention."

June 2007: 'ICE officials denied claims of medical mistreatment, noting that detainees undergo physical examinations within 12 hours of entering detention. "I deny the assertion that we don't properly treat detainees," said Tim Shack, medical director for the Division of Immigration Health Services, which provides health-care services for ICE. "We deliver excellent medical care to detainees."'


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Owned by (partial or full, past or present) Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) Organization Jun 19, 2007

Articles and Resources

Date Resource Read it at:
Jan 09, 2010 Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail

QUOTE: thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry....107 deaths in detention counted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October 2003...

New York Times
Jul 15, 2008 Group Calls for Inquiry Into Death of Detainee

QUOTE: “Lack of access to adequate medical care is among detainees’ chief complaints,” said the center’s executive director, Cheryl Little, an immigration lawyer. “The ICE detention system is designed to fail detainees like Valery Joseph.” United States immigration officials disagree. A division of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently released a study it had done showing that the percentage of deaths per 100,000 detainees was “dramatically lower for ICE detainees than for U.S. prisons and jails and the general U.S. population as a whole.”

New York Times
May 14, 2008 Some Detainees Are Drugged For Deportation: Immigrants Sedated Without Medical Reason ("Careless Detention" part 4 of 4)

QUOTE: The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.

Washington Post
May 13, 2008 Suicides Point to Gaps in Treatment: Errors in Psychiatric Diagnoses and Drugs Plague Strained Immigration System ("Careless Detention" part 3 of 4)

QUOTE: While tens of thousands of detainees inside immigration detention centers endure substandard medical care, people with mental illness are relegated to the darkest and most neglected corners of the system, according to interviews and thousands of internal documents, including e-mails, memos, autopsy reports and other medical records, obtained by The Washington Post.

Washington Post
Jun 13, 2007 Illegal Immigrants Received Poor Care In Jail, Lawyers Say: Treatable Illnesses Grew Grave, They Claim

QUOTE: lawyers say that scores of detainees have not received proper care, leading to disfigurement and even death...[but] ICE officials denied claims of medical mistreatment...

Washington Post