The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today’s winner is ICE aka Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They get the award for the following.

In a stinging ruling, a Los Angeles federal judge said immigration officials’ alleged decision to withhold a critical medical test and other treatment from a detainee who later died of cancer was “beyond cruel and unusual” punishment.


Castaneda, who suffered from penile cancer, died Feb. 16. Before his release from custody last year, the government had refused for 11 months to authorize a biopsy for a growing lesion, even though voluminous government records showed that several doctors said the test was urgently needed, given Castaneda’s condition and a family history of cancer, Pregerson said.

But rather than test and treat Castaneda, government officials told him to be patient and prescribed antihistamines, ibuprofen and extra boxer shorts, the judge wrote in a decision released late Tuesday. In summary, the judge wrote, the care provided to Castaneda “can be characterized by one word: nothing.”

He first informed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement medical staff at the San Diego Correctional Facility on March 27, 2006, that “a lesion on his penis was becoming painful and growing,” the judge wrote. The next day, a physician assistant at the facility examined Castaneda and issued a treatment plan calling for a consultation with a urologist “ASAP” and a request for a biopsy, according to government records cited by the judge.

Over the next 11 months, several doctors, with increasing urgency, made the same recommendations. For example, after conducting an examination June 7, 2006, Dr. John Wilkinson, an oncologist, wrote a report saying he strongly agreed that Castaneda had an urgent need for a biopsy and an assessment by a urologist because he might have “penile cancer. . . . In this extremely delicate area . . . there can be considerable morbidity from even benign lesions which are not promptly treated.”

That same day, Pregerson said, Dr. Esther Hui of the Division of Immigration Health Services acknowledged Castaneda’s condition but said the government would not admit him to a hospital because her agency considered a biopsy “an elective outpatient procedure.”

You can read the Judge’s ruling here. This passage is particularly enlightening.

Official records document Defendants’ circular logic that because they would not allow him to have the biopsy, “he DOES NOT have cancer at this time”; because he does not have cancer, he therefore does not need a biopsy. (Id. Ex.8.) In other words, as long as they could label Castaneda’s condition elective, Defendants could remain willfully blind about his lesion and avoid having to pay for its treatment.

A man died of cancer, and moronic bureaucrats working for our immigration system helped cause it to happen. ICE failed to provide Mr. Castaneda with needed medical care while he was in their care, and that is why I name them today’s Knucklehead of the Day.

Hat tip- Immigration Prof. Blog

In memory of Sebastian Ferrero
A different type of cease fire