Sunday, November 17, 2019

Cuban asylum seeker apparently commits suicide while in ICE custody

A Cuban migrant died of an apparent suicide at a Louisiana detention center after spending months in detention while his immigration case played out in court, authorities said yesterday.

Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, 43, died Tuesday at the Richwood Correctional Center in Richwood, Louisiana, ICE said in a statement. Hernandez-Diaz was found unresponsive in his cell and efforts by staff and emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful; he was pronounced dead at 2:21 p.m. Tuesday and the preliminary cause of death appeared to be suicide, the agency said.

The Cuban immigrant was transferred to ICE custody May 20, two days after Border Patrol encountered him in El Paso, Texas, the agency said. His immigration case was still pending before federal immigration courts at the time of his death, according to ICE.

“ICE 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,” the agency said. Yarelis Gutiérrez, Hernandez-Diaz’s girlfriend, told Telemundo 51 from Florida that the man had been on a hunger strike before his death.

He was “fighting for his right” to be released from detention during his immigration case, Gutiérrez said in Spanish. She said that she did not believe Hernandez-Diaz died by suicide and that he spoke of resistance in the letters he wrote her.

Gutiérrez said Hernandez-Diaz had been suffering from glandular inflammation for the last two weeks and was allegedly not given medical treatment. “He asked them to take him to the doctor and they didn’t take him,” she said. “They didn’t help him.”

ICE did not immediately comment on her claims.

NBC NEWS