× Nurse questions medical care at immigration jail in Georgia

ATLANTA — An Atlanta nurse said at a news conference Friday that she made medical decisions for an immigrant she was feeding and caring for at an immigration detention center on her first day in the country.

Dr. Sana Saber says she objected to doctors trying to stop a stream of people into the facility in New River, Georgia, she describes as “frenzy” at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center.

Shows from immigrant detainees “decked out in civvies” and sitting in chairs were caught on video, Saber said, adding that immigration officials often detain people hours after detainees arrive at the intake center.

“One day while I was taking care of an immigrant detainee at ICE’s Georgia facility, it was shocking to see the tumult and chaos I was suddenly witnessing. I could hardly believe the many individuals out in the cold and the frantic need to get in and out of the detention center without charging them for medical care,” she said.

Saber arrived at ICE detention center just hours after the health of the patient changed because of the immigration detention center’s decrepit conditions. However, ICE spokesman Thomas Mardini dismissed claims that the facility’s medical care was unsafe.

“ICE is committed to achieving our medical mission by facilitating the health and well-being of our immigrant detainees,” Mardini said.

Immigration detention has been slammed by a report that found a surge in deaths among immigrants while their immigration cases are under way at immigration courts. Last year, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official previously testified in a court hearing that an increase in people committing suicide or throwing themselves out of windows had led the agency to adjust security measures at the intake center.

In a Tuesday report, Human Rights Watch said immigrant detainees could report “rabid” levels of pain and lacerations in their face, hair, hands and feet. The group also said ICE employees seemed to be trying to drive detainees to suicide.

“No facility seems more dangerous for the detainees than the one run by ICE,” the report said.

The two nurses who took photos of Saber’s transfer to ICE detention center defended her decision to submit medical treatment to a staff member on Friday. The staff member refused to participate in the procedures, Saber said, adding that she was afraid to get medical treatment for immigrants at detention.

“If you are running the command structure, I will only do what is necessary for the health of the patient,” she said.