Opinion: Vaccination of immigrants without consent in Dilley was flagrant abuse

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
July 10, 2015

On the evening of Friday July 3, we became aware of a particular incident of our government’s systematic mistreatment of hundreds of young, captive children and their mothers. A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) noted that about 250 detained children were administered adult doses of the hepatitis A vaccine in an immigration detention camp in Dilley, TX. The agency was quick to minimize this mistake, immediately asserting that “no adverse reactions are expected.”  

Yet, this flippant dismissal offers us little in the way of clarity – let alone explanation or empathy – and prompts us to ask: what exactly happened in Dilley? And why?

I am working to provide legal services with the CARA Project there, where nearly 2,000 children and mothers are incarcerated by the federal government after seeking asylum. How did asylum seekers get dosed with potentially harmful amounts of vaccine by the federal government? Here’s what we’ve been able to put together:

Last week, guards from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison company, entered the rooms of hundreds of mothers and children without warning between four and six a.m. They told the mothers that they and their children had important medical appointments. The mothers, in their bleary-eyed, barely-conscious state, objected: they had never asked for a medical appointment, their children were asleep, they didn’t understand why or for what they were being called. The CCA officials paid no attention to the women’s questions. Instead, the guards instructed them that they could take nothing with them and that they must immediately wake up their children and follow. The women followed; they had no other choice.

Read the full piece at Fox News Latino.