Last year, reports indicated that immigrant detention centers in Texas, including the Karnes City and Dilley centers, were operating below capacity. And illegal border crossing arrests are at a 46-year low. There is one immigration-related statistic, though, that increased over the past year. A report by the Houston Chronicle and the nonprofit investigative organization Injustice Watch found that 2017 was the deadliest year since 2009 in immigrant detention facilities nationwide. Twelve detainees died in custody last year – and some of those deaths were deemed preventable.
Lise Olsen, an investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle, says it’s difficult to learn much about what happened to immigrants who die in custody, because of a “layer of secrecy.”
Olsen says the patterns she and her colleagues identified while investigating those deaths were similar to what is generally known about how immigrants fare in detention centers.
“There are still issues with people getting basic medical care when they have a health emergency, or a chronic health condition like high blood pressure, and they’re in ICE detention,” Olsen says.
Investigators found that depression among detained immigrants is also a concern that may be related to some deaths. Olsen says detainees have killed themselves.
ICE has not responded to questions about detainee deaths, Olsen says, but the agency says it is investigating.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.