'I refuse to die in here': the marine who survived two tours and is now fighting deportation
by Sam Levin in Adelanto, California
September 7, 2019
However bureaucratic challenges mean some immigrant service members don’t complete it, and under the Trump administration, a series of changes have made the process even harder. Some also mistakenly believe citizenship is automatic, advocates say. When immigrant veterans who haven’t been naturalized are convicted of certain felonies, they can then be deported.
Jose Segovia Benitez, a US Marine Corps veteran, is being detained in an Ice facility. Photograph: Damon Casarez/The Guardian
In his 21 months of detention, Jose Segovia Benitez says he’s been denied critical treatment for his PTSD and heart condition
Jose Segovia Benitez survived two tours of duty with the US Marine Corps, a bomb blast, and a traumatic brain injury.
But the US is not helping him recover. On the contrary, the government may be leading him to his death.
Segovia is currently imprisoned at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention center in Adelanto, California where he says he is being denied critical medical and mental health care. The 38-year-old veteran is facing deportation to El Salvador, a country he left when he was three years old and where his loved ones fear he could be killed.
“I’m not going to die here. I refuse to die here,” Segovia said on a recent morning, wearing a red jail uniform and seated in a cramped room with no windows to the outside.
During his 21 months of detention in the southern California facility, Ice has failed to provide adequate care for Segovia’s serious heart condition, denied him proper treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and repeatedly placed him in isolation, according to the former marine and his lawyers. The consequences, they fear, could be fatal.
Segovia is one of fifteen current detainees who filed a federal lawsuit against Ice last month alleging medical neglect and horrific conditions that rise to the level of “torture”. He is also one of the estimated thousands of veterans who have faced deportation over the years despite their service to the country.
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