A Brooklyn man facing deportation says he had to have a toe amputated because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ignored his pleas for better medical attention while in custody. And as President Trump presses ahead with his immigration crackdown, there are growing questions about how detainees get medical care. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger has this exclusive story.
Zbigniew Lutostanski says his infected foot was allowed to get worse while locked up at the immigration detention center in Bergen County, New Jersey.
"It is going to spread to my bones," Lutostanski said "Maybe I am going to lose, you know, my leg."
Doctors already have amputated one of his toes. The 66-year-old Polish immigrant and his lawyer are blaming officials with ICE.
"Three of his toes, they looked like they were going to fall off," said Wendy Austrie of the Legal Aid Society. "It was heartbreaking."
Lutostanski was arrested by ICE agents at his Brooklyn home last November after serving time on Rikers Island for a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge. He has six DWI convictions.
He has been in the U.S. since 1981. He first came here with a visitor's visa, and then obtained temporary refugee status. But that expired years ago.
"Yes, this man has a criminal history, and yes, he is in deportation proceedings, but he is a human being, and he, at the very least, should come out of jail the way he went in, not worse," Austrie said.
The Legal Aid Society says an immigration judge released him on a bond last month so he could get outside medical treatment. That's when his toe was amputated.
Lutostanski, who has diabetes and other health issues, also had a serious wound under his foot. He says he was given cream and told to soak it while in jail, but it got worse.
"It was like a big hole. You can stick a finger inside," Lutostanski said.
He's not the only who has complained about medical attention at the facilities where ICE detainees from the city are held. In addition to the Bergen jail, they are taken to a detention center in Hudson County, New Jersey, and the Orange County jail in upstate New York.
All have been seeing a lot of activity as President Trump moves to tighten enforcement of immigration laws.
In June, Rolando Espinoza died after he was transported from the Hudson jail to the hospital.
Earlier this year, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest released a report detailing the lack of medical attention for detainees. It found one woman was denied dialysis, a man with gallstones wasn't treated, and one detainee with rectal cancer was misdiagnosed.
"They were treating someone for hemorrhoids, but it turns out the guy had cancer," Austrie said. "I am very angry that our clients have to go through this."
As Lutostanski's deportation case continues, he's thinking about suing ICE.
In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said, "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody; ICE provides all appropriate necessary medical treatment to individuals in custody. In instances where necessary, ICE coordinates with private health care providers to ensure a detainee's needs are met. The cost of health care is paid by ICE."