Multiple civil rights organizations filed a class-action lawsuit against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement on Monday, surrounding the medical and mental health care provided at migrant detention centers.

The suit was brought by The Southern Poverty Law Center, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and Disability Rights Advocates, working with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP at the U.S District Court for the Central District of California.

It claims the centers failed to meet standards for disabled detainees, outlined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and also says the centers were in violation of the Fifth Amendment by using detention to punish immigrants.

“The fact that immigrant detention is supposed to be civil, and not punitive, is a distinction without a difference when it comes to how detained immigrants are treated," said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director for the SPLC, in a statement reported by The Hill. "At least 26 people have died since Trump took office, and tens of thousands have suffered as a result of the federal government’s abject failure to provide basic medical care at the facilities where taxpayers are spending billions to detain immigrants."

The claims note various circumstances such as one where a diabetic man says he was given an overdose of insulin and never evaluated by a doctor afterward. In a separate claim, another plaintiff says he suffered a back injury and cannot walk without assistance, but has not been given physical therapy, in addition, a man claims he lost eyesight in his left eye after not receiving surgery recommended by a doctor at the facility.


The facilities drew national attention during the summer after stories of their negative condition began to spread; Democratic lawmakers even held tours of the facilities to gain first-hand knowledge. Many of the migrant children got no toothbrushes, soap, showers, or towels while being held at Border Patrol detention facilities.

Graybill explained in her statement the goal from the courts stepping in would be to end immigrant suffering at the hands of the U.S. government. 

"More will suffer and more will die without court intervention,” Graybill said.

An ICE official disputed the claims in the lawsuit, telling the Hill "comprehensive medical care" is provided to all detainees.