Mexican man dies in ICE custody; 10th since October

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HOUSTON (AP) — A 42-year-old Mexican man died in a South Texas hospital while being held pending his deportation, immigration authorities said Monday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement identified the man as Ramiro Hernandez Ibarra and said he died Saturday after being hospitalized Thursday. ICE said Hernandez’s preliminary cause of death was complications related to septic shock but did not provide further details.

Hernandez is the 10th person to die in ICE custody since October, the start of the governmental fiscal year. Eight people died in the previous fiscal year.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, immigration advocates have criticized the medical care ICE provides to people it detains and called on ICE to release some of its more than 37,000 detainees. About 47% of those people are being held on non-criminal violations of immigration law, according to the agency’s most recent statistics.

As of last week, ICE had not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in its facilities. The agency has placed sick detainees under observation and others in quarantine at several of its jails, including about 60 people confined to a dorm in the Pine Prairie facility in rural Louisiana, according to a lawyer who has spoken to detainees there.

ICE says Hernandez had repeatedly crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and voluntarily returned to Mexico eight times. He was most recently taken into ICE’s custody in December after he was arrested and jailed for domestic violence at the Hidalgo County Jail.

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