More Deaths in Immigrant Detention

August 18th, 2009 · 16 Comments

Another troubling article came out today regarding immigrant detention. Yesterday, immigration officials said that they discovered the records of 10 previously unreported deaths in ICE custody. More specifically, these unreported deaths involved eight men from Cuba, one from Mexico, and one from Ecuador.

For me, the fact that these deaths were not apparent in a previous Freedom of Information Act request is disturbing:

“Gillian Brigham, an ICE spokeswoman, said the deaths did not turn up earlier this year when the agency, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, tried to conduct a comprehensive search of those who died while in custody. Ms. Brigham said the agency was aware the 10 detainees had died in custody, but their names hadn’t come up in the original search.”

This makes me wonder how many other names have not come up in various searches. It is easy to brush the ugly truth under the rug, especially with people that our society does not want to readily absorb in the first place. However, in the interest of humanity, the US must do a better job and get serious about detention reform. But what has been proposed by the Obama administration looks like more of the same policies we have seen from the Bush administration. Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano has indicated that the number of detainees would stay the same or grow.

I do want to note that Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) has introduced a bill this year to ensure the humane treatment of people being held in immigrant detention. This would be a great bill for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to cosponsor, as she is the Vice Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and I notice that she is not on the co-sponsor list. Congressman Polis, who we noted has already spoken out on immigrant detention last month, is co-sponsoring this bill.

Photo Credit: The dining room of an immigrant detention center (Courtesy of ICE)

Tags: Barack Obama · Department of Homeland Security · Detention · Immigration · Rep. Loretta Sanchez · Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Reyfeo // Aug 18, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Are you implying that ICE has people that are intentionally killing illegal immigrants? These are American citizens doing their jobs! Surely you’re not saying that, right?

    Or are you implying that the care they get isn’t a 5 star hotel servicing center? I have been to just about every Latin American country, and I have seen how those countries treat immigrants and prisoners…not pretty to say the least. The people who run ICE do their best to treat people fairly and so I think it’s disingenuous of this article to imply otherwise simply because you want to add fuel to the fire on immigration. You should have just written a piece that said you hate immigration raids and confinement centers and that you stand for open borders and it would have not hidden the message as you did in this article.

    Also, what was the physical stamina of the 10 dead illegal immigrants? Are we to assume they were 20 year olds who “mysteriously” died in housing facilities run by ICE renegades? Or were they anomaly deaths? It’s unfortunate there were 10 deaths, period, but relative to 300-450K immigrants coming across the border yearly I would say we do a damn good job of making sure everyone of them gets back to their country safely.

  • 2 Wise Latino // Aug 19, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I would say we don’t do enough to make sure MORE get back to their home safely.

  • 3 El Cholo // Aug 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Obviously, you forgot to remove your rose colored glasses the last time ICE stormed through your neighborhood. Or maybe your indifference is coated with so much porcelain lacquer, your social viewpoints are so bias, they make you utterly blind. Nevertheless, you are exactly what public education intended to create.

  • 4 Reyfeo // Aug 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    …another wise and constructive point by “El Stupido”.

    Does ICE scare you because you’re part of the millions who are here illegally? Or is it your parents that here illegally and your caught t in the middle with a computer and a vengeful tongue?

    Just so you know “El Stupido”, most government employed folks understand that safety and humane treatment is paramount even when sending illegal immigrants back to their respective countries…I did that in Iraq and Afghanistan even when the prisoners I cared for were the same ones that blew to pieces my friends. My God and public education gave me the sense to do the right thing even under those circumstances. See, “El Stupido”, no bias or Rose Colored Glasses here, just common sense that says 10 dead immigrants probably was caused by health and or anomaly type situations, not reckless Americans intent to hurt and or kill others not of this country.

  • 5 theKaiser // Aug 19, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    El Cholo, you shouldn’t even bother engaging with this Reyfeo person. He’s not bright enough to recognize the vernacular of your dialogue. He actually thinks you’re an immigrant. Save your words for someone of intellectual substance. Now that Cockroach People person…he’s intelligent.

  • 6 Bearguez // Aug 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Maybe this Reyfeo was a guard at Abu Ghraib, and doesn’t know the difference between torturing someone and doing your job. There are people so self-righteous it blinds them completely to the harm they do to others. Nevertheless, you’re right El Cholo.

  • 7 DoctorH // Aug 21, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    El Cholo an immigrant? Immigrants wish they could write and speak English that well. What ignorant person said this?

  • 8 Reyfeo // Aug 22, 2009 at 7:00 am

    So I take back the “El Stupido” comment and still pose the question…do you really think Americans, meaning those who work for ICE, are intentionally trying to harm immigrants? This article implicates those people with some guilt. Remember, when you say ICE, it is our neighbors that run/work for that agency.

    Again, anytime 10 people die in the hands of the Federal American Gov’t (or any State, Local gov’t etc for that matter) is not good and should be investigated. I have no disagreements here, but the article indirectly implicates the good people who work for ICE and that’s wrong!

    So I pose question # 2. The US has the best housing/detention centers in the world. When you say “Detention Reform”, what exactly do you mean, bigger detention cells? They crowd 20 cabrones in one cell down in Juarez…Or is it you want every “illegal” immigrant treated like “US Citizens” and be giving an attorney and set free until the court date? In Tijuana, they throw you in jail until the judge gets damn good and ready to even think about you!

    …and my last comment/rhetorical question: If you have a problem with the immigration detention process this much, why would you allow the SAME gov’t to run your health care process? (Yes, I am assuming you all are in favor of the public health care option given your left leaning tendencies to your response and no I’m not being sarcastic, really).

  • 9 FormerStaffer // Aug 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm


    Comparing ICE/or U.S. Prison System behavior to Mexican Prison System behavior is apples and oranges. Mexico is a Third World country, with a Third World mentality, as is Latin America in general with all things concerning the rule of law. If you’re going to compare the behavior of ICE/U.S. Prison System, you should compare it to other G8 countries. And on that comparison, ICE/U.S. Prison System has a brutal record. Obliviously, you have never spent 5 days in Los Angeles County lockup being threatened continuously by deputies while you wait to be arraigned.

  • 10 DoctorH // Aug 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    We have conducted interviews with U.S. citizens who have been arrested by ICE, detained in these detention centers for 7-30 days, denied access to inform relatives, or attorneys of their whereabouts, and in 78% of those cases were actually deported to Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, and Colombia. ICE tends to be more psychologically and physically abusive with immigrants from Latin America, and Haiti. So there is an obvious double standard being practiced here. Illegal immigrants from Western Europe and the former Soviet Union aren’t being targeted, or arrested with the regularity as illegal immigrants from Latin America. This behavior by ICE is similar to what is practiced within the U.S. Legal System.

    Also I would not associate the actions of ICE with those of the U.S. Government as a whole. Various entities of the U.S. Government have different cultures, contradictory relationships with corporate America, and conflicting missions. That is why Congress is always having investigations into the behavior of the IRS, the CIA, the NSA, factions of the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Agriculture, etc, etc. To demonize the entire U.S. government for the illegal behavior of ICE, is to disenfranchise the efforts of the Obama Administration to reverse the larceny and illegal behavior of the previous administration. ICE is clearly a product of the PATRIOT Act, and their illegal behavior is protected by the PATRIOT ACT.

  • 11 El Cholo // Aug 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I love how you conveyed this in less than two thousand words. Of course, you could’ve expanded deeper into the illegality of the Patriot Act, and all those U.S. citizens sitting in jail without being arraigned and charged with any crimes. But most of America is absolutely clueless about the Bill of Rights, and are content repeating what they hear on FOX news. This healthcare drama really displays what a failure public education is, and how network and cable news is more interested in entertainment, than informing the public.

  • 12 theKaiser // Aug 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Why don’t you write a post on the influence of the PATRIOT ACT and how ICE utilizes the PATRIOT ACT to terrorize all people of color, and deprave them of their constitutional rights? You should write about this double standard.

  • 13 Michaelr // Aug 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Why don’t we bring up the torture techniques practiced by ICE? The relocation of numerous detainees, all at great taxpayer expense to psychologically torture the detainee by hiding them from relatives, and therefore preventing them from informing their relatives or attorneys of their imprisoned situations. All of this sanctioned by the PATRIOT Act, as if these people are all terrorists working for bin Laden.

  • 14 Reyfeo // Aug 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Doctor H, good insight…BUT, where are these facts so I can look at them myself.

    The same goes to Former Staffer. If you say “And on that comparison, ICE/U.S. Prison System has a brutal record.” show me please. But to rebut your statement, most G8 countries don’t have the big illegal immigrant in-flow (that’s not to say they don’t have any, but their border isn’t as long and perplexed by the inflow of millions looking to stay her illegally.)

    To El Cholo: “the illegality of the Patriot Act”???
    How, where? I’ll agree to you having that deeply rooted opinion but unless you can back that up with some law (constitutional or otherwise) that proves your point, that’s all that is, opinions.

    Also, and I am greatly assuming, that most of you voted for Obama, but where is BO on this issue…why and where, if ICE is that horrible, is he about ridding for you this disgraceful system ICE? What’s your input on BO doing nothing to rid of ICE? Is this the change you voted for?

  • 15 El Cholo // Aug 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    The legality of the PATRIOT Act…

    You are right Michaelr. If you don’t read print media, you lose the ability to process information and distinguish what is real and what is bullshit. Oh well, it was a shot.

  • 16 DoctorH // Aug 25, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Hmmm… I guess enlightenment just doesn’t work for some people.

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