An immigrant detainee who was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, hanged himself inside his cell.
Efrain De La Rosa, 40, was found alone in his solitary confinement cell this week at the privately operated Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, said Terry Howard, the assistant special agent in charge for GBI’s Americus office.
The GBI conducted an autopsy as part of its investigation into whether foul play was involved in his death. The Stewart County Sheriff’s Office is also taking part in the probe.
Romero, who was diagnosed by the Virginia Department of Corrections with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, should not have been placed in solitary confinement given his mental history. However, according to a December 2017 inspector general’s investigation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the facility where Romero was held has a long history of forcing detainees into solitary “for violations of minor rules” and refusing to complete voluntary labor. Often detainees are placed in solitary without explicit reasons.
He is the eighth person to die in ICE custody this year.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday that senior officials from the agency are reviewing what happened to De La Rosa.
“ICE,” the agency said in a news release, “is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases.”
several immigrant rights organizations are demanding a full investigation into the circumstances of Romero's death.