A 4th ICE Detainee Has Died Since October

Another day; another abuse scandal for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On April 3, 54-year-old Abel Reyes-Clemente died at an Arizona immigrant detention center after being placed under medical observation two days prior for flu symptoms, The Arizona Republic reports. An autopsy is planned to determine the official cause of death.

Reyes-Clemente was the fourth detainee since October who has died in ICE custody. In December, two Guatemalan children — Jakelin Caal, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8 — got sick and died in a New Mexico immigrant detention center, according to The Arizona Republic.

In legal filings, many detainees have alleged a severe lack of sanitation and access to medical care while in ICE custody. They describe being placed in cells with open toilets, not enough soap for washing and no cups for drinking water — forcing them to drink using their cupped, soiled hands.

An official ICE statement downplayed the criticisms by pointing out that the agency “spends more than $269 million” annually on health care services for detainees. However, given the accounts of the abysmal living conditions in ICE facilities — as well as the deaths — this figure has little meaning. Either the funding is not enough, or it is being mishandled.

After the outcry that followed the deaths of Caal and Alonzo, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen vowed to increase support for medical services in immigrant detention centers, as well as to provide more frequent health screenings. However, given that Nielsen has recently stepped down from her post — with many speculating that President Donald Trump had wanted her to be more heavy-handed with immigrants — it is likely these improvements will either be rolled back or not implemented at all.

There is an undeniable pattern of negligence and outright abuse occurring in ICE immigrant detention centers. Not only are detainees placed in abhorrently unsanitary conditions, but an enormous number of immigrant children in custody have reported sexual abuse.

According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, over 4,500 such complaints were made by detained children between 2014 and 2018. The Department of Justice has logged over 1,300 such complaints, as well.

Incredibly, despite thousands of sexual abuse allegations, government data show not a single detention facility staff member has been charged with a crime — let alone convicted of one. In most cases, the allegations are ignored. And in some rare instances, the alleged perpetrator is either reassigned or dismissed.

Take action!

It does not matter what nationality a person is or whether they have broken immigration laws. They are people who deserve basic dignity and life. It is completely unacceptable that these people are held in such unsanitary conditions where they’re becoming deathly ill.

Call on Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan to take this crisis seriously by auditing these facilities for poor hygiene practices, as well as ensuring every detainee has full access to medical care by adding your name to this Care2 petition today!

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You‘ll find Care2‘s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
 

Photo credit: Vince Reinhart via Flickr

46 comments

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin2 days ago

how many deaths will be enough?

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Christine V
Christine V2 days ago

So sad

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Richard B
Richard B2 days ago

Thanks

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Brandy S
Brandy S12 days ago

Thanks.

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Brandy S
Brandy S12 days ago

Thanks.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill27 days ago

thanks

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Dot A
Dot A27 days ago

Just reading the comments demonstrates how differently people live their lives. Some speak words of compassion, help and understanding. Some speak of 'not my problem' - go away! My understanding of the Founding Fathers was to demonstrate how much a country can care for others. Our strength as a nation was built upon the talents, gifts, and hard work of people dreaming to make a better life. I believe that if we abandon this ideal goal, we are abandoning our basic premise of what it means to be an American, where we want to have a home for our brave, and a land which honors freedom. It is to our credit to reveal any cruelty and unjust treatment of people seeking to flee a place of unimaginable violence, unlivable conditions, and hardships which they cannot overcome, unless another better nation offers that transition. I think only the 'well-off' are the primary ones objecting to assisting those far far less fortunate than themselves. Look at the wealth of our potus. And he is as ticked off as ticked off can be. He does not want to offer compassion to anyone, except it profit himself. Dishonor to our country! Our Founding Fathers tried to see how greed and power could corrupt our nation, but, it is difficult these days to get our minds in sync regarding the less privileged.

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Susanne R
Susanne R27 days ago

Joanna M - I'm not sure what "comparison" you are referring to. Please enlighten me. In the meantime, here's an article that might be of interest to you:

Title: "The US is experiencing a widespread worker shortage. Here’s why: Retail and restaurant workers are more in demand than tech workers." (Vox - 3/18/19)

https://www.vox.com/2019/3/18/18270916/labor-shortage-workers-us

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Joanna M
Joanna M29 days ago

@ Susanne R - That's not an accurate comparison. In the early 1900s, many more people were needed to work various jobs. Now we eliminate more and more positions every year. A declining population is a good thing.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill29 days ago

signed

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