In an apparent nod to transparency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency maintains a page on its website titled, “List of Deaths in ICE Custody.” The list enumerates deaths going back to 2003, the year that ICE was created. There’s just one problem: the list hasn’t been updated since 2017.
ICE did not respond to a request by The Young Turks to explain why they haven’t updated the list.
After about a year without any updates from mid 2017 to mid 2018, pursuant to a congressional decision, ICE began posting “Detainee Death Reports” which appear to have different criteria.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the existence of internal ICE documents characterized multiple ICE detainee deaths as avoidable. In one December 2018 memo to ICE’s then-Acting Deputy Director, Matthew Albence, an ICE official stated, “IHSC [ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has occurred.”
Following TYT’s report, several members of Congress issued statements expressing concern about ICE’s conduct. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted in response to the report, “ICE is an organization that has become increasingly militarized, brutal, and unaccountable; it must be abolished.”
Underneath the header for ICE’s list of detainee deaths is a note that says: “Data from: 10/01/2003 to 06/05/2017.” The most recent death listed is that of a Honduran man, Vicente Cáceres-Maradiaga, who died in May of 2017. Multiple deaths have occurred since then, including a dozen in 2018 alone.
In total, 24 detainees have died while in ICE custody under the Trump administration, according to an analysis conducted by NBC News earlier this month. At least four more people died shortly after being released from ICE custody.
ICE’s list of detainee deaths includes a section for “final cause of death.” Of the six deaths listed that took place during the Trump administration, four do not disclose a cause of death, instead reading “pending.”