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Officials: ICE Detainee Dies of ‘Self-Inflicted Strangulation’ in Louisiana Private Prison

Officials say a Cuban immigrant killed died of “self-inflicted strangulation” yesterday after five months in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at a private prison in Louisiana. He and his wife entered the country legally as refugees in May, but after two days, ICE took him into custody, claiming he was “inadmissible.”

“Roylan Hernández-Diáz, 43, was pronounced dead at 2:21 p.m. local time by facility medical personnel after he was found unresponsive in his cell and efforts by facility staff and emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful,” an ICE statement released today says. “The preliminary cause of death appears to be self-inflicted strangulation: however, the case is currently under investigation.”

ICE said it had notified the man’s next of kin, and claimed that it is “firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in its custody.”

Mother Jones reporter Noah Lanard tweeted that the man’s fellow detainees said Hernández-Diáz had begun a hunger strike prior to his death. Lanard wrote that he has spoken to the man’s wife, and she said she last spoke to her husband a week ago.

“Hernández’s widow told me this morning that Roylan never mentioned self-harm, but said he felt hopeless when they last spoke on October 9,” Lanard tweeted. “Hernández’s widow asked earlier today: ‘Today, it was my husband, but how many have there been before? How many more will there be if we don’t control this?”

On May 18, the Cuban couple entered the country legally at the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas and asked for asylum. The ICE statement, though, says ICE took him into custody two days later after immigration officials deemed him “inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act” for unknown reasons. ICE “quickly released his wife,” Lanard reports, “but refused two of (her husband’s) requests to be released on parole.”

ICE held him in custody at the Louisiana facility while he awaited a hearing before immigration courts.

Numerous deaths have been reported at ICE facilities over the past year as the Trump administration ramped up its anti-immigrant efforts, including child deaths. Dozens of outlets have reported on deplorable conditions in ICE facilities, with severe overcrowding, a lack of medical attention and psychological trauma.

Lanard tweeted that the facility where Hernández-Diaz died has a “well-documented history of abuse” and that he will have a story coming soon.

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