Things That Matter

He Was In ICE Detention For Five Months, Now This Cuban Migrant Is Dead And His Family Wants Answers

The deaths of migrants in US government custody have sparked outrage and cast a spotlight on the treatment of immigrants detained by authorities. But, despite the outrage and grief, little seems to be being done to improve the conditions immigrants are being held in. 

In fact, recent reports indicate that the Trump administration is actually moving to make life for migrants even more miserable (and dangerous) while in  government custody. From not providing for basic sanitary needs to withholding critical vaccinations and even deporting migrants in need of life-saving medical care, this administration is putting countless lives at risk. 

Given the administration’s contempt of migrants coming to the US to seek asylum or simply better opportunities, the deaths of migrants are not at all surprising. Although they’re largely an avoidable tragedy — until Trump took office deaths of migrants in US custody were exceedingly rare — the situation in detention centers is likely to get worse before it improves. 

At least eight people have died in ICE custody at adult detention centers this year, according to information released by ICE and compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Here are those who we’ve lost since January 2019:

Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, 43, Cuba

ICE officials confirmed the death of Roylan Hernandez-Diaz on Wednesday. The 43-year-old man was being held in an isolation area known as “the pit” at the Richwood Correctional Center, a private facility operated by the firm LaSalle Corrections.

“The preliminary cause of death appears to be self-inflicted strangulation, but the case is currently under investigation,” ICE said in a statement to El Nuevo Herald.

Hernandez-Diaz, who first entered ICE custody in May after being apprehended at the El Paso Port of Entry, feared being deported to Cuba. The man recently appeared before an immigration court, where relatives said he told guards that he would leave the detention center “free or dead.”

Hernandez-Diaz’s cell mates told the publication that he once organized a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions at the detention center. “They were hopeful that they would be freed or at least released on parole, but months went by and they were still detained,” one relative said of the strike. “In Louisiana, the detainees face very bad conditions. They are treated badly, and the authorities don’t believe that they are politically persecuted.”

Abel Reyes-Clemente, 54, Mexico

While in ICE custody at an Arizona corrections center, Reyes-Clemente displayed signs of the flu and was “placed into medical observation” on April 1, ICE said. Two days later, facility personnel found him around 6 a.m., unresponsive and not breathing.

This case is a particular reminder of the cruelty of the administration’s policies. Reyes-Clemente likely died of complications related to the flu yet it was just recently announced that the government will not provide flu vaccines to migrants for the upcoming flu season.

Simratpal Singh, 21, India

The Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner listed suicide as the manner of death and hanging as the primary cause of death on its website. Autopsy results have not yet been released. 

Unidentified Man, 40, Mexico

The man died at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, after being apprehended by CBP agents for illegal re-entry early Sunday morning, according to a CBP news release. Hours after being apprehended, the unnamed man was evaluated by medical personnel at the Border Patrol’s processing facility near Paso Del Norte Port of Entry.

CBP said the man was transported to the medical center after being diagnosed with flu-like symptoms, liver failure and renal failure. He died later that day.

Johana Medina Leon, 25, El Salvador

Credit: DIVERSIDAD SIN FRONTERAS / Facebook

The cause of death for Medina Leon, the asylum seeker who died on June 1, remains unclear. Like Roxana Hernandez, a transgender woman who died in ICE custody last summer, Medina Leon was diagnosed with HIV while she was detained.

Medina Leon, known to her friends as “Joa,” became ill while detained at the Otero County Processing Center, a private detention center in New Mexico where the ACLU and the Santa Fe Dreamer Project recently alleged poor treatment of, and “unconscionable conditions,” for LGBTQ immigrants.

Unidentified Woman, 40, Honduras

The woman, who was not identified, died shortly after being apprehended after crossing the border.

The woman, who crossed the border without authorization in Eagle Pass, Texas, at about 6:20 a.m., collapsed about 25 minutes later at the Eagle Pass South Station. In a statement, Border Patrol said agents and officers administered medical care until emergency medical services arrived at 6:55 a.m. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The tragedy marked the second time in less than 36 hours that a person had died immediately following their perilous migration from their home in Central America, through Mexico and across the southwest border.

Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres, 30, Honduras

Balderramos-Torres had previously been apprehended by immigration officials in El Paso, Texas, on May 17, according to a statement released by ICE. The man was accompanied by his son when he was encountered by Border Patrol on May 17, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Balderramos-Torres had been sent back to Mexico under a Trump administration program that requires Central American immigrants to wait outside the US as their asylum cases make their way through the immigration courts. On May 27, Balderramos-Torres again crossed the border without authorization and was picked up by local police in the US during a traffic stop.

On June 30, Balderramos-Torres was found “unresponsive,” and medical officials at the facility were unable to revive him. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead Sunday morning. A cause of death is pending as officials conduct an autopsy.

Pedro Arriago-Santoya, 44, Mexico

Pedro Arriago-Santoya was awaiting deportation at the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin prior to his death at an area hospital.

Medical staff at a hospital in Columbus determined the man’s preliminary cause of death as cardiopulmonary arrest, followed by multi-organ system failure; endocarditis, an infection in the heart’s inner lining; dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease; and respiratory failure, ICE said in a statement

In custody since April, Arriago-Santoya told immigration authorities he felt stomach pain on July 20, leading a nurse practitioner to send him via ambulance to a hospital in Cuthbert. Medical staff suspected he had gall bladder disease, ICE said, and, the next day, sent him to the hospital where he died waiting for surgery consultation.

Marvin Antonio González, 32, El Salvador

Credit: Jose Cabezas / Reuters

Like many Salvadoran migrants before them, Marvin Gonzalez and his eight-year-old daughter Joselyn set off from their farm surrounded by corn and sugarcane one morning in early July with dreams of better lives in the United States. 

Gonzalez, 32, planned to reunite the girl with her mother in North Carolina, and later send for his current wife from El Salvador. 

The two made it across the U.S. border in late July. Then their luck turned. After they were detained in El Paso, Gonzalez died from heart-related causes that seemed to have flared up suddenly.

Norma Palacios, 23, the wife of the younger Gonzalez, said she had planned to eventually join her husband in the United States, bringing along their daughter Tifany, but had changed her mind.

“Our dream was to be together there, but now with what happened, I don’t have the courage to go alone,” she said in an interview with Reuters.

Roberto Rodriguez-Espinoza, 37, Mexico

Staff at the jail saw Rodriguez-Espinoza “acting confused” on Sept. 7 and transferred him to Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital in Woodstock for evaluation, ICE said. He was transferred to Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital the next day, where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage.

He was transferred to Central DuPage for a neurosurgery consultation and became unresponsive during a neurological exam, ICE said.

Many of these deaths were likely preventable. Human Rights Watch asked for an independent medical analysis of 15 recent deaths in immigration detention; in eight cases, subpar medical care contributed or led to the fatalities. The same is true for 23 of the 52 deaths in immigration detention for which we have such analysis since 2010.

ICE has dramatically expanded the number of people in its dangerous system, including particularly vulnerable people like children and pregnant women. 

By locking up people who aren’t a flight risk or a threat to public safety, the US guarantees a ballooning, abusive, and expensive system, despite the existence of more cost-effective and humane alternatives to detention. 

Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

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If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.

There are three ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of twenty signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse. And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.

1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.

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This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.

2. They have pulled your hair.

Instagram: @theerinblythedavis

This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.

3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.

Instagram: @beatfreak1996

One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.

4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.

Instagram: @veeegooose

While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.

5. They have threatened to hurt or kill you.

Instagram: @raquelitt

It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.

6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.

Instagram: @stephaniemaurasanchez

Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.

7. They have forced you to have sex.

Instagram: @jennylikesjewellery

Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.

8. They try to control you and treat you like a child.

Instagram: @silvia_almanza

Abusive relationships are about control and power. Part of treating you like a child is making you feel like you don’t have any control in the relationship, or even your life, so that you continue to stay and endure the abuse.

9. They make you feel like you need permission to make decisions or go somewhere.

Instagram: @kreeturefeature

This applies when you feel like you have to text at every moment to update your partner about where you are. And when you can’t spend time with friends or family without getting permission from your partner. This is because abusers commonly try to isolate their partner from other, platonic relationships with other people.

10. They try to take complete control of the finances and how you spend money.

Instagram: @loudmouthbruja

Controlling how money is earned and spent is known as financial abuse. People suffering from this type of abuse are commonly denied access to money by partners for doing simple tasks like grocery shopping. Or, sometimes the abuser decides whether and when their partner is allowed to work.

11. They cannot admit to being wrong.

Instagram: @abs_ter

Part of being in a respectful and loving relationship is being able to say sorry and to admit fault. An abusive partner refuses to apologise, because doing so would threaten their position of power in their relationship.

12. They accuse you of things that you know are not true.

Instagram: @estephaniaabarca

This is about control, and manipulating you. After all, if you’re spending your time trying to prove your innocence, then you’re not going to spend your time planning to leave the relationship, are you?

13. They do not take responsibility for their behavior.

Instagram: @lu.pazmi

The reality is, it’s not too much to ask someone to take responsibility for their behavior – even more so when it’s someone you’re in a relationship with. However, your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior because doing so would threaten their position of power in the relationship.

14. They use “The Silent Treatment” to get their way.

Instagram: @yappaririri

Chances are you may have experienced “The Silent Treatment” before, in elementary school. And that’s where that behavior should stay. An equal, loving relationship is not built on one person using silence to manipulate the other person into conceding a point.

15. They make subtle threats or negative remarks about you.

Instagram: @noshophotography

Of course, there’s always room for some friendly sledging in a loving, respectful relationship. But, it turns into abuse when your partner does this on a regular basis to frighten, or control you. It’s possible they may even pass it off as a “joke”, or say that you’re “overreacting”. But again, if you’re in a loving relationship, then your partner should respect the fact that you’re hurt by a “joke”. They should not continue to make these types of comments.

16. You feel scared about how your significant other will act.

Instagram: @erikakardol

Repeat after us: you should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship. You should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship.

17. You feel that you can help your partner to change their behavior.

Instagram: @amnesia.r

But, only if you have changed something about yourself first.

18. You watch your behavior carefully so that you do not start a conflict in your relationship.

Instagram: @cmirandads

An abuser does not abuse all of the time. They maintain a cycle of abuse in the relationship. Things go from being tense, where you feel like you have to watch your own actions, to an incident which involves verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Then, your partner attempts reconciliation or denies the abuse occurred, and the relationship goes into a calm stage. However, tensions will begin to build before long, starting the cycle once again.

19. You stay with your partner because you are afraid of what they would do if you broke up.

Instagram: @msstefniv

In other words, you feel trapped in your relationship because of your partner’s current, or potential, behavior. This can range from hurting you, your kids, your pets, your friends, and your family. Or, destroying your belongings, compromising access to your finances, or hurting themselves.

20. They don’t pass “The No Test”

Instagram: @kaitlyn_laurido

“The No Test” is pretty simple. Observe what happens the next time you tell your partner “no”. This could be in response to being asked out on a date, or maybe doing them a simple favor. Disappointment is a normal response to being told “no.”  However, pure outrage, violence, and/or emotional manipulation is not a reasonable response, and may indicate an abusive relationship.

If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.

Trump Is Dismantling Obama-Era Rules Prohibiting Discrimination In Federal Housing Policy

Things That Matter

Trump Is Dismantling Obama-Era Rules Prohibiting Discrimination In Federal Housing Policy

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There have been a few constants in Donald Trump’s administration that will always be remembered with fear and an uncanny feeling of uneasiness by Latino communities and by immigrants in general. The travel ban imposed on citizens from countries of Muslim majority, the constant raids that ICE has been involved in, family separations at the border, the famous Wall, the pressure that the White House has put on Mexico to stop Central American migrant caravans at the Guatemala-Mexico border… the list is painfully long.

Another constant regarding immigration and the Trump years is POTUS’ seemingly unmovable desire to reverse Barack Obama’s major changes to immigrant rights. Well now, a mere few months from the 2020 presidential campaign, the Trump administration is taking a step that will make Brown and Black populations feel even more vulnerable. 

Trump intends to reverse Barack Obama’s anti-discrimination housing rules.

Credit: Unsplash

This would be a terrible blow for diversity. Obama’s rules blocked banks from denying loans based on race or ethnicity, and cities from segregating people experiencing financial hardship. 

But what are the changes being made by the Trump administration exactly?

Credit: Don Freidberg / Flickr

The changes are being spearheaded by Ben Carson, Housing Secretary and former presidential hopeful. As Politico reports, Carson is “ moving to scrap an Obama policy withholding federal funds from cities if they don’t address segregation”. Politico also emphasized that, additionally, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “has proposed cutting back on collecting data that helps track discrimination in the mortgage market.”

This basically means that speculators and city planners would have free reign on how neighbourhoods are laid out in terms of racial, financial and cultural background. Investors can benefit projects that cater for outsiders instead of local populations, further contributing to gentrification. Carson has said that Obama’s strengthening of the Fair Housing Law ended up “actually suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods.”

The problem is the nature of said investment and whether it forces underprivileged communities out due to escalating prices in real estate, rent and basic commodities. Shaun Donovan, who worked on the Obama administration’s approach to housing, wrote in a New York Times editorial that“housing plays a key role in advancing economic opportunity and closing the wealth gap between people of color and white Americans. African-Americans and Latinos have less than one-tenth and one-eighth, respectively, of the household wealth of white Americans, and homeownership remains the largest source of wealth-building for most families”. Taking this into account, it is fair to say that any changes to how discrimination of prevented will have a considerable impact on the true inclusion of Black and Brown communities and individuals in the American economy. 

Trump officials say these measures are an intention to cut red tape, but they could spell doom for diversity.

Credit: The Bronx Beat

The administration argues that these changes are meant to facilitate a swifter process for developers and for cities, who would be able to bypass obstacles for construction projects. But these obstacles are there for a reason! And this reason is diversity. Democrats and activists are getting up in arms. Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, has said: “They’re trying to eliminate the ability to enforce fair housing. They do not want to promote fair housing. They do not want to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”

Historically, U.S. cities have been ghettoized and during the Obama administration some of the policies that allowed this system to be perpetuated were given a second look, and in some cases reversed. 

Changes to Fair Housing Laws could spell even lower levels of homeownership among minorities.

Credit: Pixabay

Activists say that the Trump Administration is ignoring the fact that there is discimination in real estate and housing, and that pretending that race has nothing to do with this is dangerous and irresponsible. And the levels of home ownership among historically vulnerable communities is presenting a downhill trend. As Politico reports:“The white rate [of home ownership] is about 73 percent, compared with a little under 43 percent among black people.”

Legal experts think that the changes proposed by Trump and Carson are undermining the capacity of minorities to actually be able to afford places in their own neighborhoods. Thomas Silverstein of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law,Y told Politico: “I think there’s an effort by this administration to narrow the scope and the sort of meaning of civil rights protections so there’s just a hollowed-out husk of what’s actually protected”.