A 30-year-old migrant from Honduras has died after spending nearly a month in ICE custody.
The death of Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres on Sunday marks the sixth death of a person while they were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October, the agency confirmed late Monday. It also appears to be the first in-custody death related to the Trump administration’s controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy.
At least 11 people have died in federal immigration custody, including in Border Patrol stations and child migrant shelters, since September.
Balderramos-Torres was being held in a Houston detention center operated by CoreCivic, a private prison company that contracts with ICE. He was found “unresponsive in his dormitory” on June 30, ICE said in a statement, and the facility’s medical personnel couldn’t revive him. The statement included few details about Balderramos-Torres’ condition until that point, and ICE did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
He died early in the morning after being transferred to a local hospital.
Border Patrol officers initially encountered Balderramos-Torres on May 17 in El Paso, according to the ICE statement. BuzzFeed News, which first reported the news of his death, said his son was with him at the time. Balderramos-Torres was deemed “inadmissible to the U.S.” and was told to return to Mexico, where he was expected to wait out his asylum case as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols.
More than 15,000 migrants have been sent back to Mexico as part of the MPP, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, since March. Some have set up encampments in Mexican border towns, where they’re increasingly preyed upon by gangs and drug cartels. Others, like the father and daughter who recently drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande, look for other ways to enter the U.S.
Balderramos-Torres found another way in, according to the ICE statement. He entered the U.S. without authorization on May 27, ten days after first being encountered by Border Patrol, and was transferred into ICE custody on June 6 after a traffic stop.
Since Balderramos-Torres had previously been deported in 2013, ICE “reinstated” his deportation order and kept him in federal custody pending his return to Honduras. He had been in ICE custody for 24 days.
At least 25 immigrants have died in ICE custody since Trump took office. That figure doesn’t include deaths that occurred in the custody of other federal agencies that process immigrants, like Customs and Border Protection or the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Cover: Migrants cross the Rio Bravo illegally to surrender to the American authorities, on the US - Mexico border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Saturday, June 15, 2019. (AP Photo/ Photo/Christian Torres)