Things That Matter

22 Immigrants Have Died In ICE Detention Two Years Into The Trump Administration

At least 22 immigrants have died in the custody of U.S. immigration enforcement in the two years since President Donald Trump took office. According to an investigative report from NBC News, it found that a number of deaths in U.S. detention centers included individuals from places like Vietnam and Mexico. The report comes out less than a month after two high profile deaths of immigrant children died under U.S. custody.

The report shows that some had been longtime legal residents and half were not yet 45 years old.

While issues within U.S. detention centers predate President Trump, he’s expanded U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement priorities that include the arrest of and separation of many children from families. These new measures have put vulnerable immigrants at risk, especially younger groups of people. The 22 deaths in the past two years are among the 188 detainee deaths in ICE custody since 2003 when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed shortly after 9/11.

The 22 deaths include at least one transgender woman, Roxana Hernandez, who died within two weeks of being taken into U.S. custody.

Hernandez had traveled from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she sought asylum as part of a migrant caravan. Within two weeks in ICE custody, she was transported to four different immigration centers. She was transported from California to Arizona, then to Texas and lastly to New Mexico, where she was sent to the hospital and died shortly after. The death ws original blamed on lack of medical care for her HIV-positive diagnosis.

This past December, ICE released reports on six people who died in 2018 that included Hernandez. The report showed that Hernandez had been dehydrated, starving and feverish upon her death. An independent autopsy disputes the report and shows she likely died due to dehydration and that her body showed signs of “physical abuse.”

A request for the death reviews of all 22 who have passed away has not been completed by ICE. This has made it hard to completely analyze what’s going on at detention centers.

During testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 20, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that “one death is too many,” and DHS detention centers have “some of the highest standards in the world.” Yet the new report reveals a detention system filled with multiple violations and problems. Just in the last year, the DHS Office of Inspector General issued three reports finding bad treatment and inadequate oversight in ICE detention centers.

One death was that of a legal resident, Huy Chi Tran, 47, who arrived from Vietnam in 1984. After ICE got Tran in May 2018 from an Arizona prison, where he was serving time for disorderly conduct, he died of a heart attack. ICE records revealed that Tran suffered from schizophrenia that may have contributed to his death.

“You’ll see someone who is clearly an asylum seeker who came into custody with a serious medical condition, whether a heart condition or otherwise, and you have to ask, ‘Why is this person in jail?'” said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center told NBC. “There’s no reason for it.”

Under Trump, the population of the immigrant prison network has risen 30 percent over the average under Obama and twice that under George W. Bush.

While the number of 22 remains below the peak of 32 deaths in 2004, the annual number of deaths, 10 in 2017 and 12 in 2018, has jumped under President Trump. During the Obama administration, the numbers rose and fell from 10 in 2008 to five in 2012. But deaths rose up to 12 in President Obama’s last full year in office, as the number of detainees grew. ICE held an average of about 42,000 people a day in it’s more than 200 detention centers, which was 30 percent more than under President Obama and double than President Bush.

The report shows that the rise in the number of detainees had more to do with the increase in ICE arrests across the U.S. than from actual people crossing the border. The shift in arrests and number of those detained has most likely attributed to these deaths.

If the Trump administration wants to continue making immigration one of its main priorities, they’re going to have to improve conditions in detention centers across the country. It’s going to have to start with better medical screenings of children and an increase in mental health checks on those incarcerated.


READ: These Tweets Show The Impact Trump’s Government Shutdown Is Having On American Families

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Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

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Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

This past March, according to El Pais, migrants crossed the Rio Grande at an all-time high not seen in the past 15 years. US government reports underlined that a total of 171,000 people arrived at the southern border of the United States in March. Eleven percent were minors who made the journey by themselves.

Reports say that this vulnerable group will continue to grow in size with recent shifts in the Biden administration child immigration policies. Five migrants girls recently found by the river recently became part of this group.

An onion farmer in Quemado recently reported that he found five migrant girls on his land.

The girls were each under the age of seven, the youngest was too small to even walk. Three of the girls are thought to be from Honduras, the other two are believed to have come from Guatemala.​ Jimmy Hobbs, the farmer who found the girls, said that he called the Border Patrol gave the children aid by giving them water and food and putting them in the shade.

“I don’t think they would have made it if I hadn’t found them,” Hobbs told US Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) in a New York Post. “Because it got up to 103 yesterday.”

“My thoughts are that it needs to stop right now. There are going to be thousands. This is just five miles of the Rio Grande,” Hobbs’ wife added in their conversation with Gonzalez. “That’s a huge border. This is happening all up and down it. It can’t go on. It’s gonna be too hot. There’ll be a lot of deaths, a lot of suffering.” 

“It is heartbreaking to find such small children fending for themselves in the middle of nowhere,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Austin Skero II explained of the situation in an interview with ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “Unfortunately this happens far too often now. If not for our community and law enforcement partners, these little girls could have faced the more than 100-degree temperatures with no help.”

According to reports, the Customs and Border Protection stated that the five girls​ ​will be processed and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.​

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Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

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Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

For years now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been enforcing cruel and, in many opinions, illegal immigration policies that have affected the most vulnerable among us. And they’ve been doing it without a permanent leader who can be held accountable.

The Trump administration relied on interim leaders and deputy secretaries to head the sprawling and powerful agency. Now, President Biden has nominated a frequent outspoken Trump critic to lead the agency and many are hopeful there could be real change.

The White House has nominated Texas sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead ICE.

President Joe Biden has nominated a Texas sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, to lead ICE. Gonzalez has been the sheriff of Harris County (parts of Houston, TX) since 2017, leading the state’s largest sheriffs department. He has led a team of 5,000 employees in the position and previously served 18 years with the Houston Police Department, rising to the rank of sergeant, according to his profile on his office’s website.

Gonzalez has also been a vocal critic of elements of former President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement policies.

Gonzalez is the second such critic to be selected by Biden for a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security, following the nomination two weeks ago of Tucson, AZ., Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Gonzalez has long been a voice of reason within law enforcement leading many to be hopeful for change.

During his first term as sheriff Gonzalez ended a program with ICE that trained 10 Harris County deputies to determine the immigration status of prisoners, and hold for deportation those in the country illegally.

As sheriff he also opposed Texas legislation requiring local law enforcement to determine individuals’ immigration status, according to The Texas Tribune. The legislation was viewed as targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.” Gonzalez, like many in law enforcement, said the approach would destroy trust and make their job protecting communities more difficult.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Biden’s pick in a statement Tuesday.

“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a strong choice for ICE Director,” Mayorkas said. “With a distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Sheriff Gonzalez is well-suited to lead ICE as the agency advances our public safety and homeland security mission. I hope the Senate will swiftly confirm Sheriff Gonzalez to this critical position.”

ICE has long been missing a permanent director to lead the agency.

Gonzales would succeed Tae Johnson, who has been serving as acting ICE director since Jan. 13. He previously served as the agency’s deputy director.

ICE has not had a permanent director since 2017. The agency operated with five acting directors under the Trump administration. This comes as the Biden administration has faced challenges at the border, including a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S.

The announcement of Gonzalez’s nomination comes on the heels of another major announcement from DHS. Mayorkas also announced Tuesday that he has directed ICE and Customs and Border Protection to place new limits on civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses.

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