Brazilian migrants sue ICE over mental health care

Posted on 09 Mar 2009 at 5:25pm
By Jennifer Kay Associated Press

1 of 2 men say he was mistreated in Brazil because he is gay

MIAMI — Two Brazilian migrants have sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying they’ve been denied mental health care in a South Florida detention facility since their boat ran aground last fall.

Jaime Miranda and Daniel Padilha were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by a private physician in December but have not been given prescribed medications or treatments, according to lawsuits filed March 4 in federal court.

Their confinement without medical care has aggravated their mental health problems, violates their Fifth Amendment rights and mirrors persecution in Brazil that they sought to escape, the lawsuits state.

Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for the Immigration enforcement said she could not comment on matters pending litigation.

Miranda and Padilha were both aboard a boat that ran aground on Oct. 31, near a small island outside Miami. The boat had departed days before from the Dominican Republic, where Miranda and Padilha say traffickers held them for two months against their will.

Both men said they were fleeing mistreatment in Brazil; Padilha, 24, is gay, and the 27-year-old Miranda’s father was murdered.

At least six people died after the boat hit a sandbar. Miranda and Padilha were among five Brazilians and 22 Dominicans detained by ICE. About 10 others were reported missing, but it was unclear if they drowned or made it ashore and fled.

Miranda and Padilha persistently relive the accident and have nightmares in which the dead passengers ask them for food and water, according to the lawsuits.

Miranda and Padilha are seeking release or transfer to a facility that can provide mental health treatment, in addition to damages for pain and suffering.

Each also seeks asylum to escape torture and persecution in Brazil, where they say they would not have access to psychological services if deported.

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