2 men dead after being assaulted by guards & denied medical care, highlights lack of safety and basic human rights for immigrant detainees
Contact: Caroline Picker, Puente, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-501-7276
For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Phoenix, AZ—As the call for an end to immigrant detention grows, a practice that a recent New York Times editorial says “breeds cruelty and harm, and squanders taxpayer money,” two men died under extraordinarily suspicious circumstances in late May at the Eloy Detention Center. Numerous detainees report that both deaths occurred after the man in question was subjected to abuse by detention center guards and then denied medical care for his injuries.
Detainees report that Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun, whose death was announced in an ICE press release on May 21, 2015, was assaulted by guards in response to his requests to call his lawyer or family, and then placed into segregation and denied medical care the night before he was discovered dead. Another man whose name is unknown was reportedly tazed by detention center guards despite having significant medical problems, including a pacemaker, and then left without any medical attention, resulting in his death. These are not the first deaths to have occurred at Eloy, which has been exposed to have some of the worst conditions of any detention center in the country.
Community advocates are standing with detainees who witnessed the two incidents to demand an immediate independent investigation into the suspicious circumstances of both deaths.
Francisca Porchas, an organizer with the Puente Movement, says, “There is a culture of abuse at Eloy that has gone unchecked for years. We demand an independent investigation into both recent deaths as well as the ongoing excessive use of force by guards against detainees. Immigrant detention is unnecessary and fosters violence and harm against our community. ICE has shown time and again that they are unable to keep people safe while detained and so it’s time for them to end the practice of detaining people once and for all.”
Interviews are available with Francisca Porchas; Elder Gomez, who was detained in Eloy for nearly three years; and Sandra Ojeda, whose husband is currently detained there, upon request.
An anonymous letter from one of many detainees who witnessed the assaults and translation available below.
To Whom It May Concern:
I expose to the media and any human rights organization through this letter the abuses in CCA Eloy Detention Center. This institution hired by the federal government makes all kinds of abuses against persons detained by ICE.
In May 2015, there were two situations of abuses against immigrants in which they lost their lives at the hands of CCA officers. In CCA, there have been more than 20 deaths and the federal government has not done anything about it, even though they know about violations against the people detained and have not respected the Geneva Convention that any foreigner has the right to be treated with respect and dignity as a human being.
I am detained at Eloy in Tank 300 and have witnessed these abuses against detainees by ICE. On one occasion, I witnessed how they beat a man who had his hands up and begged for his right to see his lawyer. That request was denied by CCA guard and in response the immigrant was met with aggression and excessive use of force leaving him dead at the hands of the CCA guards. Until now, neither the federal government nor ICE have acted to ensure the integreity and respect for human rights in these installations.
By means of this letter, I am asking the federal government and the United States Congress to conduct an investigation to stop the abuses that immigrants suffer and to clarify the deaths of the immigrants and that those guilty of these abuses are brough to justice for the the crimes they have committed against detainees who died from this abuse and/or negligence. I ask the United Nations to demand justice and human rights. Also, I ask all the media to support this cause. I am only asking for peace and justice for the families of the dead. We trust the federal government will answer our demands and requests based on the rights and respect for all foreigners under international conventions.