Robert Anglen's Watchblog
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Unique. Hard-hitting. Interactive. Dedicated to online investigations of waste, fraud and corruption. Call 602-444-8895 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for more investigative reports at watchdog.azcentral.com
More immigrants have died in custody at the detention center in Eloy than at any other facility in the country.
Records from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency show that nine immigrants have died while in custody at Eloy since 2003, two more than reported at any other facility where immigrants have died.
The nine deaths represent about 9 percent of the total 104 immigrants who have died while in government custody since 2003, according to an analysis by The Arizona Republic.
Neither ICE nor prison officials could speak immediately Tuesday to the the number of deaths at the Eloy facility, which is run by Corrections Corporation of
"While I'm not going to comment on specific facilities, I will say generally that the detention reforms recently announced by ICE...will improve medical care, custodial conditions, fiscal prudence and critical federal oversight of the immigration detention system," said ICE Public affairs Officer Gillian Brigham in Washington D.C.
Two of the deaths at Eloy -- Elias Lopez, a Mexican national who died Jan. 4, 2005, and Felix Rodriguez-Torres, a Ecuadorian national who dies Jan. 18, 2007 -- were among 10 people whose in-custody deaths were previously unreported.
ICE officials said Monday that the discovery of the 10 deaths was prompting a "an agency-wide review of all documents and databases to ensure the integrity of ICE’s records on detainee deaths."
Records show that eight of the 10 died of natural causes, one committed suicide and one was unknown.
Records relating to circumstances involving the deaths of immigrants detained at Eloy are so far unavailable. But records do show that one of the men died at the
The facility at Eloy houses 1,500 immigrants all of who are facing civil immigration cases and deportation.
According to the Republic's analysis, seven immigrants died while in custody at the
"It is definitely concerning that there have been nine deaths at Eloy," said Victoria Lopez, immigration rights advocate for the American Civil Liberties union in
The release of the death list was sparked by an ACLU lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act asking for a comprehensive list of deaths in 2007. In April, the Department of Homeland Security released a list of 90 individuals who died while in custody.
The ACLU maintains that deficient medical care is "believed to be a leading cause of death in immigration detention, and is the number one complaint the ACLU has received from ICE detainees."