WASHINGTON – Over half the immigrants who died under custody of the United States’ immigration authorities in recent months did so because of poor medical care, a report by Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations said on Wednesday.
The report examines 15 of the 16 deaths reported over 16 months between December 2015-April 2017 by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which did not explain the causes of the last death.
The conclusion of the investigation carried out by HRW, the American Civil Liberties Union, Detention Watch Network, and National Immigrant Justice Center was that eight of the 15 deaths were on account of inadequate medical care.
The report describes the case of Jose Azurdia, who died in December 2015 in California when he was made to wait for two hours to be sent to the hospital after he showed symptoms of a heart attack, and Moises Tino Lopez, who had two seizures in nine days without receiving medical attention until he lost consciousness.
Lopez died in September 2016 in Nebraska.
“ICE has proven unable or unwilling to provide adequately for the health and safety of the people it detains,” Clara Long, a senior US researcher at HRW, said in a statement.
“Immigrant detention centers are dangerous places where lives are at risk and people are dying. The death toll amassed by ICE is unacceptable and has proven that they cannot be trusted to care for immigrants in their custody,” said Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network.
Since March 2010, 74 people have died in immigration detention although the ICE has only released death reviews of 52 of the cases, according to HRW.
In the 2017 fiscal year, 12 people died in immigration detention, more than any year since 2009.
In 2017, ICE held a daily average of nearly 40,500 people in detention, a number which the government of US President Donald Trump aims to raise to 52,000, according to the report.