Third Death in Immigration Detention Makes the Adelanto Detention Center the Deadliest Facility in 2017

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Washington, DC — Immigrant rights organizations, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), Detention Watch Network (DWN), and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Vicente Caceres-Maradiaga. Caceres-Maradiaga, 46, died last Wednesday while in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being detained at Adelanto Detention Center in California. This tragedy marks the third death to occur at Adelanto this year, after Sergio Alonso Lopez and Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba.

“Adelanto is now the deadliest detention center of 2017,” said Javier Hernandez of Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “Long before this egregious distinction, Adelanto has been known as a facility where abuse and mismanagement persist.”

The Adelanto detention center where Caceres-Maradiaga died is operated by The GEO Group Inc., a notorious private prison company that has a well-documented track record of abuse, mismanagement and neglect. The passing of Caceres-Maradiaga brings ICE’s total death count to 173 since 2003 — a shameful record further exposing ICE’s inability to guarantee the safety and health of people in its custody. Recent investigations into deaths in immigration detention have found that inadequate medical care at detention centers has contributed to numerous deaths.

“We are outraged by the disregard for human life and ICE’s ongoing refusal to meet demands for transparency,” said Danny Cendejas, organizing director at Detention Watch Network. “We cannot allow the loss of life in immigration detention to become routine and desensitized — ICE must be held accountable for the rising death toll.”

A federal investigation into Adelanto’s first death concluded that the death of Fernando Dominguez could have been prevented. CIVIC and Human Rights Watch recently analyzed the medical records of Raul Ernesto Morales-Ramos, a man who died in 2015 at Adelanto, concluding that subpar medical care contributed to his death.

“Adelanto is notorious for its substandard medical care.  A government investigation in 2015 forced GEO Group to turn over its medical unit to Correct Care Solutions (CCS), but nothing has improved.  In fact, CCS’s CEO is a former VP at GEO Group.  If the federal government is unwilling to shut down Adelanto, it is time for California to cut ties with private immigration detention facilities by passing the Dignity Not Detention Act,” said Christina Fialho, a California-based attorney and co-executive director of CIVIC.  

The Dignity Not Detention Act, which just passed the Senate, would end for-profit immigration detention contracting in the state of California.

CIVIC Wins Commitment from ICE for Continued Visitation Access

ICE Responds to CIVIC’s Federal Complaint with “Strong Desire” to Facilitate Continued Access to Immigration Detention Facilities

HuffPo_PicCommunity Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is pleased that ICE has committed to facilitate access for community visitation programs for people isolated in immigration detention. ICE’s statement was made in response to CIVIC’s federal complaint filed on March 15th with the Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties within the Department of Homeland Security detailing access denials and restrictions in violation of federal policy at 14 immigration detention facilities in Arizona, California, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. CIVIC submitted this complaint in addition to a letter signed by 441 organizations and individuals urging ICE to uphold its commitments to transparency and public access to the detention system.

Within 24 hours, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan responded, indicating that “ICE appreciates the work of CIVIC and other community-based visitation programs” and ICE has a “strong desire” to continue to facilitate our access to immigration detention facilities.  Homan promised to send CIVIC and those who co-signed the letter a response after further review of our complaint.  We believe that this prompt response is a sign that ICE is unable to ignore the widespread concerns over restricted access to immigration detention facilities, which has received coverage in publications including traditionally conservative outlets such as the Washington Times.

We hope to see ICE back up this commitment by enforcing the Stakeholder Access Directive, ICE’s PBNDS on Visitation, and ensuring that visitation programs and family members are allowed continued access at all U.S. immigration detention facilities.  As detailed in CIVIC’s complaint, community visitation programs have faced unwarranted restricted access to immigration detention facilities in recent months. As Christina Fialho, CIVIC’s co-founder/executive director, notes in a Huffington Post article about the complaint, holding immigration detention facilities accountable requires that the public continue to have access to them. With a record number of immigrants being detained under the Trump Administration, it is now more critical than ever that family and community members are not faced with restrictions when visiting people in immigration detention.

While ICE’s response is a welcome development, CIVIC will remain vigilant to ensure that ICE lives up to its commitments and that visitation programs can operate without undue restrictions.
CIVIC is the national immigration detention visitation network, which is working to end U.S. immigration detention by monitoring human rights abuses, elevating stories, building community-based alternatives to detention, and advocating for system change. Join the movement at