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  1. #1
    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Detainee sues for neglect of cancer not diagnosed

    Detainee sues for neglect of cancer not diagnosed
    Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Friday, November 2, 2007

    Francisco Castaneda says he spent more than 10 months in immigration jails in Southern California pleading for medical help as lesions on his penis grew larger and more painful, but the government's only response was to free him before it had to pay for a scheduled biopsy.

    The 35-year-old Salvadoran native, who entered the United States illegally with his mother when he was 10, now says he has terminal cancer that would have been prevented by proper treatment. His cancer was diagnosed immediately after his release from federal custody in February, and his penis was amputated before he began chemotherapy.

    Immigration officials are still seeking to deport him, but Castaneda's lawyers say he will probably die before his case is resolved.

    On Wednesday, Castaneda filed suit accusing state and federal officials of negligent medical care.

    "Government officials imposed a death sentence on Mr. Castaneda, without benefit of judge or jury, by their failure to provide a simple and inexpensive diagnostic procedure to rule out a life-threatening disease," his chief attorney, Conal Doyle of Oakland, said after filing the suit in federal court in Los Angeles.

    Castaneda, in a statement released by his lawyers, said he was seeking justice "for all of the detainees who are being ignored when their health or even their lives are on the line."

    Advocacy groups say poor medical treatment is a serious problem in immigration detention centers.

    Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is the chief target of the suit, said she couldn't comment on the legal case, but insisted that "we take the health and welfare of those in our custody very seriously."

    The agency spent $100 million last year on the health care of its 300,000 detainees, about one-fourth of whom had chronic health problems when they were taken into custody, Kice said. She said all new detainees are screened for health problems and are referred to specialists if necessary.

    But a Bay Area congresswoman who presided over a hearing on detainee health care last month, which included testimony from Castaneda and two relatives of detainees who died in custody, said Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was "an agency in denial."

    "Whatever position you take in the immigration debate, I hope we all agree that civilized people don't let the persons who are in their custody die for preventable reasons," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, said in an interview Thursday.

    She said testimony from the agency and detainees at the hearing described a policy in which routine health care is denied in detention centers, and emergency care is provided only if approved by a nurse at agency headquarters who has not seen the patient. Such a system is "an invitation to malpractice," Lofgren said.

    Castaneda, who left El Salvador with his mother during a civil war, was living in the Los Angeles area when he was convicted of possessing methamphetamine in 2005 and spent eight months in county and state custody, his lawyers said.

    His immigration case includes a claim of political asylum. He says he would be persecuted and tortured if deported because of his former affiliation with a Los Angeles Salvadoran gang.

    According to his lawsuit, a doctor noticed a growth on his penis in December 2005 and ordered him referred to a urologist for an examination, but the exam was not conducted in his remaining three months in state custody.

    Immigration officials then held Castaneda from March 2006 until early February at detention centers in San Diego and San Pedro. As multiple lesions developed and the pain increased, his suit said, he repeatedly sought help from medical personnel, who recommended examinations that never took place.

    A physician's assistant first recommended a biopsy in April 2006, noting that Castaneda's mother had died of cancer at age 39, but a supervising doctor said it was an elective procedure that would not be provided, the suit said. Later recommendations for a biopsy and for surgery were similarly denied by physicians or officials at agency headquarters, the suit said.

    It said the medical staff's response to bleeding from the lesion was to provide Castaneda with clean underwear each day.

    A doctor finally ordered a biopsy in late January and said Castaneda probably had cancer. Rather than treating him, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released Castaneda 11 days later.

    He underwent the biopsy and amputation surgery at a Los Angeles County hospital. The cancer has continued to spread since then, Castaneda's lawyers said.

    The lawyers said they didn't know why the government freed Castaneda while he was facing deportation, but the suit speculated that the government wanted to avoid paying for the biopsy.

    If Castaneda wins his case, part of the damages will be used to reimburse the county for medical costs, Doyle said.

    E-mail Bob Egelko at ... 3T4OSL.DTL
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  2. #2
    Senior Member USPatriot's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    SW Florida
    Rep. Zoe Lofgren seems always in the wings ready to attack on Illegal Immigration issues.Sometimes I wonder who she really represents ? Doesn't seem to be the citizens who pay her salary.......
    "A Government big enough to give you everything you want,is strong enough to take everything you have"* Thomas Jefferson

  3. #3
    Senior Member florgal's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    North Carolina
    As I read through this story many thoughts ran through my mind, most of which I can't express here. First and foremost, though, I'm thinking about all the millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans with serious health issues who don't go for diagnosis and treatment because they have no means to pay. How many American women die from breast cancer each year because they can't afford mammography; cervical, ovarian, uterine cancers because they can't afford pap tests? How many American men die from prostate, colon, or other cancers because they can't afford the doctor visits and preventative testing?
    I sympathize with ANYONE who is diagnosed with cancer. It's a difficult thing to hear. But for an illegal alien to file suit against MY country because he lost his p***er? I don't think so. Are AMERICANS allowed to file suit because we can't afford health care due to the stupidity of our federal officials? HA! Gimme a break-
    This guy had TWENTY FIVE YEARS to adjust his status in this country, but instead chose to spend his time involved with illegal drugs and probably some other very nasty habits. Too bad. Now he's got to live with it, or in this case- without it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member americangirl's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    And besides of the prices a criminal pays when residing in jail is that they don't have the everyday conveniences and luxuries of law-abiding citizens.

    If this guy has cancer that might have been diagnosed sooner had he not been in prison, then the only person he has to blame is HIMSELF, for breaking the law and landing himself in prison in the first place.

    Sorry, but I have no sympathy to spare for law breakers. They get what they deserve.
    Calderon was absolutely right when he said...."Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico".

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Out West,
    Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose.

    She is by profession an Immigration lawyer who represents illegal aliens trying to find a loophole to stay here. Why would the Congress of the United States make a ultra-liberal immigration Lawyer Chairwomen of the Immigration Sub-Committee thats in charge of oversight of all immigration enforcement? She is likely the worst possible person for this critical position, the classic fox left guarding the henhouse.

    I have heard she is currently working towards forcing ICE to pull all its agents from street type law enforcement and place them only within jails. That way all the illegal aliens will feel safe to stay and continue working for their coolie level wages, while corporate America gets rich off them, and we join the third world.

    Zoe Lofgren needs to be voted out of office more then almost any other Member of Congress!
    "American"¬*with no hyphen and¬*proud of it!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    The US Government made 3 mistakes:

    1. not deporting this man and his mother years ago

    2. not getting him medical attention when he first asked for it

    3. not deporting him when he released from detention

    This government of ours is 100% totally incompetent. As to the treatment of prisoners ... well ... I'm quite sure US Citizens receive no better treatment.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

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