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Doctor For Detained DACA Recipient Concerned About His Patient's Mental Health

Spanish version (versión en español): Médico Del Joven DACA Detenido, Preocupado Sobre La Salud Mental De Su Paciente

The psychiatrist for a Portland man detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked for his patient’s immediate release.

In a letter delivered to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Dr. Michael Zalanka wrote that the mental health of his patient, Emmanuel Ayala Frutos, will likely deteriorate if he continues to remain locked up.

“Mr. Frutos’ psychiatric condition is, generally speaking, quite fragile,” wrote Zalanka, an attending psychiatrist at Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center in Portland.

The letter was provided to OPB, along with others, by Frutos’ attorney.

Frutos was arrested March 26 when ICE officers came to his home. In January, he was hit by a car while skateboarding and broke both of his legs. While in the hospital, Frutos was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.

“When I initially evaluated him, Mr Frutos had great difficulty communicating in a coherent fashion and appeared to have little insight into his psychiatric condition,” Zalanka wrote in his letter, part of a packet of correspondence and information designed to help win Frutos’ release.

In 2013, Frutos qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. He was in the process of renewing his status for the third time when he was detained.

Since Frutos’s arrest last month, his family, immigration activists and four members of the Oregon congressional delegation have demanded his release.

Collectively, they’ve raised concerns about the ability of the immigration enforcement agency to care for someone in need of intense medical care from recent injuries. They’ve also argued Frutos is not a flight risk.

“My medical opinion is that Mr. Frutos is likely to suffer psychiatric deterioration … with continued detention and separation from his family and separation from his existing mental health treatment service,” Zalanka wrote. “His symptoms require frequent and appropriate psychiatric assessment in order to safely manage and adjust his medications.”

Zalanka notes that Frutos experienced “serious side effects” in response to the first medication Zalanka put him on to treat his psychiatric symptoms. He began to improve significantly after he was placed on a different drug, Abilify.

Frutos’s attorneys contend Frutos has received a different medication at the Northwest Detention Center.

ICE didn’t immediately return a request for comment. But in past statements, the agency has said it notified staff at the Northwest Detention Center about Frutos’ medical needs, including medication. The agency has said it takes the “health and welfare of all those in its custody seriously.”

ICE said that Frutos’ family had been allowed to deliver his medications to ICE’s Portland office, and it was transferred with him to the detention center.

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