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A 44-Year-Old Man Is the 7th Person to Die in ICE Custody Since October

He was taken to a hospital on July 20 after suffering abdominal pain

by Gaby Del Valle
Jul 25 2019, 4:21pm

This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. July 25.

Another person has died in ICE custody.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed that Pedro Arriago-Santoya, a 44-year-old Mexican national, died in federal custody Wednesday afternoon. His death was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Arriago, who according to ICE went by multiple aliases, had been in ICE custody since late April. He'd received a removal order on June 6 and was being held at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, a 2,000-person facility owned and operated by the for-profit company CoreCivic. That facility has faced instances of drug smuggling, medical staff shortages, and safety problems, according to the AJC. One employee reportedly called Stewart a “ticking time-bomb.”

Arriago spent more than a month at the facility pending his deportation to Mexico and began having medical problems in late July, according to the ICE statement. He complained to staff of stomach pain on July 20 and was referred to the Southwest Georgia Regional Hospital by a nurse practitioner at Stewart.

Arriago was transferred to another Georgia hospital, the Piedmont Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, for a surgery consultation the following day. He went into cardiac arrest on July 22 and was resuscitated, but then went into cardiac arrest once more on July 24.

In an email to VICE News, ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox emphasized that in-custody deaths are “exceptionally rare” for ICE.

“While any death in custody is unfortunate, and is subject to a full review, the reality is fatalities in ICE custody are exceedingly rare and, statistically, fatalities in ICE custody occur at a small fraction of the national average for detained populations in federal or state custody,” Cox said.

Arriago is the seventh person to die in ICE custody since October. At least 25 people have died in ICE custody under the Trump administration, and at least 12 people have died in federal immigration custody — which includes Border Patrol stations and shelters for child migrants, in addition to ICE detention facilities — since September.

ICE did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

Cover: This April 13, 2009, photo shows an employee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., waiting for the front gate to be opened so she can enter. (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)