Give me your tired, your poor…but not your sick

Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and warn you that this post will be filled with the kind of tree-hugging, peace-mongering, liberal rhetoric that may bother some of my more conservative readers. I heard a story on NPR on the way home tonight (see the link in the title) that made me nearly sick.

The story concerned the death of an immigrant detainee due to the apparent negligence of the prison staff where he was being held. Richard Rust, a Jamaican immigrant, died in the Oakdale, La. federal prison of cardiac arrest on May 29th, 2004. He was 33 years old. Allegedly he was not given any life saving measures in the nearly forty minutes from his collapse in the prison barber shop until an ambulance arrived to take him to a local hospital.

Not surprisingly, the prison and the Department of Homeland Security have refused to comment on the incident other than to state that the prison staff’s behavior was “appropriate.”

Mr. Rust is not the only one. There have been many incidents of immigrants dying in detention centers…one of which was a minister from Haiti named Joseph Dantica that was seeking asylum in the United States. He was meeting with an immigration officer and a lawyer when he had a severe medical attack, and the lawyer reports that the guards refused to call for help.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

What really lies behind that golden door? I don’t care if they are from Jamaica, or Haiti, or Cuba, or even the Middle East…they are still human beings, and it is reprehensible for a country that touts itself as the leader of the free world in decency and morality to allow something like this to happen. Are these people less than we are because they were not born within our national boundaries? I’m just disgusted…I hope that the families of these brave people that have come here for a better life only to fall through the cracks can find peace. May their God bless them and give them strength.

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