ACLU report addresses immigrant detention deaths

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been responsible for multiple deaths of undocumented immigrants in detention for years by failing to provide sufficient medical care at detention centers, according to a new report released by advocacy groups. The advocacy groups also claim that the number of deaths in detention is actually increasing over time.

Reports from an ICE review board tasked with investigating deaths that took place in detention from 2010 to 2012 were examined by the ACLU, National Immigrant Justice Center and Detention Watch Network, and advocates claim that the problem has not only continued but has actually worsened in the years since. Separate online data from ICE indicates that between the October 2003 and the January 2016 there have been as many as 155 deaths in custody.

Two people died in Arizona while in custody in 2015, causing immigrant advocates to become concerned. In a statement, ICE claimed that all deaths in custody are investigated and that it is committed to providing immigrant detainees with “a safe and humane environment”, but its words are at odds with the conclusions reached by ICE investigators.

“ICE investigators found that detention centers are non-compliant to ICE standards,” notes the Detention Watch Network policy director, Mary Small, an official finding related to at least eight of 24 deaths reviewed by ICE’s own investigators. “These findings indicate the grievous violations of ICE medical care standards,” claims ACLU staff attorney Carl Takei. “Instead of ignoring its investigations, ICE must learn from its deadly errors.”