Members Push on Deaths of Vulnerable ICE Detainees
The high-profile deaths of two detained immigrants given medical treatment after seeking asylum at the southern border have gotten the attention of members of Congress. After a toddler died days after being released from the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, several House Democrats called for an investigation into the death of Mariee Juárez, which came just days after leaving DHS custody. Congressmen Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Elijah Cummings (D-MD),Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) last Friday sent a letter to Acting Inspector General John Kelly asking him to conduct a review into the medical care provided by ICE to 18-month-old Mariee and whether any of their actions contributed to her death. “The death of a child is a serious occurrence and it is critical that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General factually determine if DHS was medically negligent and whether this negligence led to Mariee’s death,” they wrote. And last Wednesday, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) called one ICE Acting Director Ronald D. Vitiello and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan to publicly release the death review and supporting documentation on Roxsana Hernández, a 33-year-old transgender woman who died in ICE custody. The Senators also requested documentation of ICE and CBP training related specifically to the treatment and safety of transgender individuals in custody. “According to ICE, Lovelace Medical Center preliminarily listed Ms. Hernández’s cause of death as cardiac arrest. The Transgender Law Center had an independent autopsy performed that suggested severe complications of dehydration on top of an H.I.V. infection and also suggested that Ms. Hernández was beaten with a baton or similar object while she was restrained by handcuffs,” they wrote. “ICE’s failure to release [the death] report diminishes the systemic, traumatic, and in this case fatal, violence that transgender individuals experience daily as a result of their gender identity.” More on Juárez here. More on Hernández here.