Mexican Man in ICE Custody Dies by Apparent Suicide

A Mexican man being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody has died, seemingly by suicide, ICE announced Thursday. He is the eighth person to die in ICE’s custody this year.

Efrain De La Rosa, 40, was pronounced dead at a Georgia hospital late on July 12, ICE said in a statement. His death is being investigated but it appears he strangled himself, the agency said, adding:

Mr. De La Rosa entered ICE custody March 11 in Wake County, North Carolina, pursuant to an ICE immigration detainer following his release from local law enforcement custody after his March 9 felony conviction for larceny. At the time of his death, Mr. De La Rosa was in immigration removal proceedings.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation told CNN that De La Rosa had been in isolation, but it was not clear why.

Just about a month ago, a man from Honduras committed suicide when he was separated from his family thanks to President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. Marco Antonio Muoz was being held in Texas when he took his own life. The 39-year-old father and husband had become aggressive when he had to part with his wife and child.

“The guy lost his sh*t,” an anonymous agent told the Washington Post at the time. “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands.” According to The Hill, he made numerous attempts to escape and guards had to check on him two times every hour. During one of those checks, he was found unresponsive.

In May, another immigrant died at the same center as De La Rosa, seemingly of a suicide as well. Jean Jimenez-Joseph was 27 years old and also appeared to die from self-strangulation. Jimenez-Joseph had been in isolation for over two weeks. A Panama native, he too was facing deportation proceedings.

Research has found that undocumented Mexican immigrants are at-risk for issues pertaining to mental health, “particularly depression and anxiety disorders,” according to a study published in October. The study, “Mental disorders among undocumented Mexican immigrants in high-risk neighborhoods: Prevalence, comorbidity, and vulnerabilities,” further said:

Given that distress from postmigration living difficulties is associated with meeting criteria for a disorder, revisiting policies and developing new alternatives to facilitate access and provision of context-sensitive mental health services for this population is necessary to protect the human rights of these immigrants and that of their U.S. families.

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