Immigrants in a detention center in the United States. Source:
Immigrants in a detention center in the United States. Source:

Dying in the hands of ICE: Another risk of immigrant detention

While Donald Trump's government tries to reunite immigrant families separated at the border, many detainees die in the custody of Immigration and Customs…


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The story of immigrants detained in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) becomes increasingly convoluted.

After the last dreadful chapter of the anti-immigrant campaign of the Donald Trump government under the title of "zero tolerance," the circumstances within immigrant detention centers have been the focus of attention for both the media and civil rights organizations.

It wasn’t enough to separate children from their relatives and lock them up in cage-like centers without physical contact, as the Trump administration also found it appropriate to force these young children to appear alone before judges without even knowing what "lawyer" meant, let alone the intricacies of U.S. immigration law.

To date, according to data published by ICE, nine detainees have died in custody of the agency during the fiscal year 2018, which began on October 1, 2017.

Last week The Intercept reported the death of Efraín Romero de la Rosa, a 40-year-old immigrant diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, detained by ICE and who was awaiting deportation in the following days.

According to what his brother told the media, Efraín committed suicide after spending 21 days in solitary confinement where his symptoms aggravated, a case that already had a precedent after the death of 27-year-old Jean Jimenez-Joseph under the same conditions during May of 2017.

"We very much have a pattern here," said Azadeh Shahshahani, a lawyer with the social justice organization Project South. "I’m not sure what else it would take for the government to shut this place. How can they defend what is happening at this facility?"

Furthermore, and as Mother Jones explained, De La Rosa is "the eighth person to die in immigration detention centers." The center in which he was held, known as Stewart and located in Lumpkin, Georgia, is a for-profit facility and part of the company called Core Civic, "whose shares climbed steadily after ICE announced in June that it was looking for 15,000 beds for detained immigrant families.”

The ninth deceased immigrant is Augustina Ramirez-Arreola, a 62-year-old Mexican woman who, according to the ICE website, lost vital signs after being transferred to Alvarado Hospital in La Mesa, California, while in the agency’s custody.

Although the details of her autopsy have not been released, preliminary reports have determined that her death could be due to "complications from heart surgery."

A similar case was reported by the agency in early June, when a Vietnamese immigrant, Huy Chi Tran, who was waiting to be deported to Vietnam, was found unresponsive. The agency still hasn't give details of his autopsy.

Zeresenay Ermias Testfatsion (34), Roxana Hernández (33), Ronald Cruz (39), Gourgen Mirimanian (54), Luis Ramirez-Marcano (59), Yulio Castro-Garrido (33) and Kamyar Samimi (64) are the names of the seven other deceased, compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

However, one more person should be added to this figure.

He is an immigrant child who died in ICE custody in Dilley, Texas, and has not yet been identified, the International Business Times reported.

Immigration lawyer Mana Yegani denounced on Twitter on Tuesday that the boy died during his confinement in an ICE detention center, as a result of possible negligence and a respiratory illness he contracted from another child.

"If they ask for a visa, the U.S. government won’t give them one," Yegani wrote. "If they stay in their country, their kids get killed by the gangs. So they are damned if they try to come the legal or illegal way.”


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