Seven months into the federal government’s fiscal year and so far at least four people saw their final day in ICE’s custody. The four deceased were all men: Kamyar Samimi, 64; Yulio Castro-Garrido, 33; Luis Ramirez-Marcano, 59; and Gourgen Mirimanian, 54. All but Mr. Ramirez-Marcano were held in private facilities prior to their deaths.
The four deaths through April 30 put ICE on track to come well within its typical annual death toll. ICE’s recent uptick in the number of detainees held daily, however, suggests that we might see an increase in the second half of the fiscal year. As the immigration prison population grows, so too does the risk of death.
The data for 2004 to 2014 are from a study I wrote about previously. Data for 2015 to 2018 (through April 30, 2018) are compiled from public press releases.
ICE’s reporting practices suggest there is reason to be somewhat skeptical of their accuracy. The former New York Times reporter Nina Bernstein has described the many roadblocks she encountered trying to learn about deaths in ICE’s immigration prison archipelago.
Aside from that, ICE continues to have some trouble computing its own death toll. Its press release announcing the death of Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba issued on March 28, 2017, for example, describes him as “the fifth detainee to pass away in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017.” Starting on October 1, 2016, the first day of the 2017 fiscal year, however, the agency only lists three earlier death: one on October 24, 2016 and two others on November 28 (in Arizona and South Texas). There is no word on the mysterious fourth death leading me to wonder whether ICE failed to disclose that death or simple counted wrong when announcing Mr. Gonzalez-Gadba’s death. Similarly, the final death reported for fiscal year 2016—that of Moises Tino-Lopez—says he was the tenth person to die, but press releases were issued that year for nine. By contrast, in FY 2015, there were seven press releases issued and the final notice states seven people died.
Because we are talking about relatively small numbers of deaths, I’m assuming the ICE public affairs officers counted correctly, thus I’ve used the reported number of deaths in the chart above.