A man held in a U.S. Immigrant and Custom Enforcement (ICE) family detention center died by apparent suicide Wednesday, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
A father died by suicide today at the Karnes detention center today.— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) March 19, 2020
We are in shock & deeply disturbed by this devastating news.
Story details below but please join us to demand @ICEgov release immigrants from detention IMMEDIATELY before the virus gets in.
The man, who is unnamed, is represented by the nonprofit Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) group. In a statement reported by AP, RAICES said it was representing the man while he was detained in the Karnes County Residential Center, located in South Texas. Per RAICES twitter, the man was a father.
This death is the ninth to occur in ICE custody since October, the start of the government fiscal year.
In a statement, RAICES spokeswoman Lucia Allain reportedly said that RAICES anticipates “that this won’t be the last death at Karnes unless ICE immediately releases all those detained at this detention center and in custody around the country. A dirty and cramped detention center in the face of a pandemic is unsafe and inhumane.”
Activists have encouraged ICE detainment facilities to release detainees to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within those communities. Due to cramped conditions and reported poor hygienic quality of the facilities, illnesses spread rapidly in detention centers, RAICES Director of Family Detention Services Andrea Meza told AP.
“When you’re there, all the kids are coughing,” she said to reporters. “Everybody has a runny nose and a sore throat and diarrhea.”