Alleged unsanitary jail conditions at heart of civil rights lawsuit


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) –  Angel and Lorena Rosa came to Utah more than 20-years ago and raised a family.
But three years ago, Angel Rosa’s secret was discovered.  He was in the U.S. illegally.  He was arrested by ICE and placed in the Utah County Jail.

In a 2016 interview with their daughter spoke of ICE coming into their home.

“I saw them handcuffing my dad with shields and guns, surrounding the whole trailer,” said their daughter Lorena Rosa.

For months, Rosa was jailed awaiting deportation.  But an attorney with the Utah Legal Clinic said something went wrong during his time behind bars.

“The jail was overcrowded, the toilet wasn’t operating properly, feces was overflowing from the toilet,” said Angela Elmore with the Utah Legal Clinic. “Once when he was in solitary he didn’t shower for ten days.”

Elmore said Rosa developed a gangrene infection on his private parts from those alleged unsanitary conditions.

“It was pretty disturbing his testicles were so swollen,” said Elmore.  “I mean it was obvious if they observed him.”

At the time, his daughter was a junior in high school in Cache County.

“When he got ill, it was a horrible experience,” Lorena Rosa said. “His infection was horrible and ever since his surgery he hasn’t been the same.”

In federal court, the Utah Legal Clinic is suing the Department of Justice, ICE and other federal agencies as well as the Utah county jail for violating his civil rights.

Specifically, unsanitary jail conditions, failing to diagnose his medical condition and delaying medical treatment are at the center of the lawsuit.

“He asked for help numerous times and was told to take advil, that he was fine,” said Elmore.  “art of the problem was there was no one to translate for him.”

Elmore said it was a cellmate who translated his concerns to jail staff before Rosa got medical treatment.  But she said it was too late.

“He was in extreme pain, in and out of consciousness,” said Elmore.

Rosa’s doctor sent ICE officials a letter urging then not to deport him because he was unfit to travel.  Despite that letter, Elmore said ICE still deported him.
His attorney said Rosa still needs medical treatment but it’s not available there.

“I personally think this is disturbing that this is able to happen,” said Elmore.

At the time, Rosa’s daughter told Democracy Now of her fears if he was deported.

“He won’t survive, that’s what we’re scared of,” she said.  “Honestly immigration is attacking the wrong person.”

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