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Latino Daily News

Friday May 3, 2013

Activist Sound Alarm as Two Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrants Die in Custody

Activist Sound Alarm as Two Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrants Die in Custody

Photo: US Detention Facility

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Activists described as alarming Friday the fact that two Guatemalan immigrants died in less than a week at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Arizona.

“I’m concerned that there is no way for independent groups to verify what is happening inside these detention centers. It’s terrifying there were two Guatemalan suicides in such a short time and in the same detention center,” Sebastian Quinac, representative of the Guatemalan Ixim Ulew Committee in southern Arizona, told Efe.

We have to know whether people guarding the detainees are paying them enough attention and supervision, or if they’re putting the detainees under some kind of pressure,” the activist said.

ICE reported Thursday the apparent suicide of Jorge Garcia Mejia, 40, who was found unconscious in his cell at the Eloy Detention Center.

Elsa Guadalupe Gonzalez, 24, was also found unconscious in her cell last Sunday by other Eloy inmates.

Both had been in ICE custody since late March.

ICE said it would investigate whether suicide-prevention measures are in effect at Eloy.

The executive director of the ACLU in Arizona, Alessandra Soler, said the main problem is the “punitive” conditions in which the undocumented live in detention centers.

“Immigrants must not be treated like criminals. They are detained for administrative violations of migration, but the policy is to jail them in subhuman conditions where they are treated like prisoners, and the practice of locking them up in isolation is common,” she said.