An immigrant from El Salvador who is waiting to be deported from Canada may lose his foot to gangrene after a stint in a Quebec jail, his lawyer said.
Julio Portillo, a 40-year-old diabetic, spent two months at the Bordeaux jail in Montreal while waiting for his deportation order to be processed.
He was transferred to Bordeaux from the Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre in east-end Montreal because of overcrowding, but it appears his medical information didn't follow him, said Chantal Ianniciello, his immigration lawyer who took his case in Nov. 2008.
As a result, Ianniciello said, Portillo didn't receive essential medical care at Bordeaux, despite making repeated requests.
"They should have known already that he needs medication," she told CBC News. "If someone is diabetic one day, he probably is still going to be in a few years."
Quebec's Public Security Ministry, which speaks for the prison, said everything is done to ensure inmates receive proper health care, including required medication. The prison keeps a nurse on staff around the clock, and doctors are on duty during the day, the ministry said.
Canada's Border Services Agency said it was up to Portillo, his lawyer and prison officials to make sure he got his medication.
Portillo's left foot is now swollen and bandaged because of gangrene, and he is in a wheelchair.
The infection peaked earlier this month and he was rushed to hospital from Bordeaux, Ianniciello said.
Portillo is now in hospital waiting for a skin graft that doctors hope will heal the foot enough to avoid amputation, she said.
Son is outraged at father's treatment in jail
Portillo's son Luis Chicas-Penate said he can't believe how his father has been treated during his detention.
"You have rights, and you have human [rights] protection," said Chicas-Penate, 19.
"I don't know how this can happen. If someone is sick, even if he is a murderer, or a criminal, he needs to have his medication, and there's no law that can stop that."
Ianniciello said Portillo is considering civil action because of his medical condition, but it's not clear who is to blame.
"He's a particular case because he's detained by Immigration Canada, but inside a prison controlled by Justice Quebec," she said.
Portillo has a history of run-ins with the law
The Salvadoran native emigrated to Canada 21 years ago, got married and had three children before receiving his permanent residency.
He then had multiple run-ins with the law, including convictions on assault, fraud and human smuggling charges.
Border authorities ordered his deportation last summer but lost track of him.
He was picked up by police in November 2008 after getting involved in a fight.
The Canada Border Services Agency ordered him deported, and detained him pending his removal from the country. His permanent residency was revoked.
He was initially detained at the Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre in east-end Montreal before being transferred to the Bordeaux jail because of overcrowding.