Marking the Mesoamerican holiday, Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, the American Friends Service Committee, student groups from Regis University and UC- Denver, Detention Watch Network (DWN), and other immigrant rights groups held a vigil at the for-profit detention center in Aurora, Colorado, GEO, to bring awareness to the untimely deaths of immigrants in government custody.
Recent investigations into deaths in immigration detention have found that inadequate medical care at detention centers have contributed to numerous deaths. “In the last five years there have been two deaths in ICE facilities in Colorado. We are gravely concerned that ICE has more than doubled its contract with GEO and GEO has not fully staffed the facility to date.” said Gabriela Flora, Program Director at AFSC-Colorado. “Today we will honor Evalin-Ali Mandza, alongside others that have been lost to the unjust and inhumane detention system, by demanding that immigrant lives are valued, remembered and celebrated.”
The vigil featured formerly detained individuals who spoke about their horrific experiences while being in detention, the construction of an altar and traditional elements of Day of the Dead.
“When I was wrongfully detained earlier this year, I met many Africans who came here seeking asylum. All they have seen of the US since arriving are bars. Many young people I met inside had been detained more than a year. That’s over 60k per person of our tax dollars going to GEO. While they are making money, we suffer. It’s very difficult to see the medical staff and receive the medication needed. Congress must defund deadly detention and end profit from pain,” continued permanent resident and Elder, Isidro Quintana.
Since 2003, 176 people have died in immigration detention. This past year alone, there have been 12 deaths in detention centers across the country at the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The shameful record of deaths amassed by ICE exposes their inability to guarantee the safety and health of people in their custody. ICE allows rampant abuses, substandard medical care, and other violations to continue undetected – sometimes with fatal consequences.
“ICE is allowing people to die in their custody. We demand ICE conduct an investigation into the 22 deaths that have occurred since October 1, 2015 and publicly release the findings by December 1st,” said Danny Cendejas, DWN Organizing Director. “People are dying and suffering needlessly due to medical neglect with no accountability. The evidence is clear and indisputable; ICE needs to start shutting down detention centers now.”
For further info: afsc.org/denver or detentionwatchnetwork.org.
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