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ICE invoking federal law to skirt hospital’s position on mentally ill detainees

May 28, 2009 - 4:37 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I reported on a La Mesa psychiatric hospital, Alvarado Parkway Institute (API), where mentally ill Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees were being held under conditions that attorneys say violate state and federal laws. I wrote a follow-up story for this week’s issue about how Alvarado Parkway told one of those attorneys, Ann Menasche, that they would no longer be accepting ICE detainees.

I just got a call from Menasche who said that ICE has invoked a federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), to force API to accept detainees. EMTALA says that hospitals cannot deny treatment to anyone with an emergency medical condition.

Alvarado Parkway’s COO, Megan Montgomery West, declined to comment. ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack said she’d look into this and get back to me. Mack’s also been trying to find out for me if ICE detainees are being sent to any other San Diego County psychiatric facilities.

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