A 63-year-old Cuban man died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at a hospital in Florida on Monday — the second death since Saturday and the sixth since October, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
The agency is close to eclipsing the eight immigrant detainee deaths in its custody during the entire 2019 fiscal year. The man’s cause of death has been preliminarily identified as cardiac arrest, according to the source
Earlier on Monday, BuzzFeed News reported that a 39-year-old man who was identified as Ben James Owen died in ICE custody on Saturday. He died at the Baker County Detention Center in Macclenny, Florida, and officials said that the preliminary cause of death appeared to be “self-inflicted strangulation,” although the case remains under investigation, according to ICE.
ICE officials said Owen, who had entered the country on a temporary visa in July, had been arrested by the Port Orange Police Department on suspicion of felony aggravated stalking, felony false imprisonment, domestic assault, and violating the conditions of his pre-trial release. ICE officials arrested him after he was released from criminal custody on Jan. 15. He was then placed into deportation proceedings.
“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases,” ICE said in a statement.
Officials have long said that the agency is dedicated to providing timely and comprehensive medical care to immigrants in its custody, noting that they have access to a daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care.
The agency has publicized that it spends more than $269 million each year on health care services.In December, the House Oversight and Reform Committee announced it had opened an investigation into the medical care of immigrant detainees in the wake of a BuzzFeed News story that revealed a series of allegations of substandard care from a whistleblower.
BuzzFeed News first reported the memo and documented how it contained reports of detainees being given incorrect medication and suffering from delays in treating withdrawal symptoms, as well as one who was allowed to become so mentally unstable he lacerated his own penis and required surgery.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.