According to internal emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have released ill immigrants days before their deaths.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the families of immigrants who were released from ICE because of illness.
The LA Times obtained 16,000 documents in its public records lawsuit against the agency. The documents show a pattern of skirting responsibility for immigrants in poor health housed in government facilities as well as contracted facilities.
After being held in New Mexico, the health of a trans woman plummeted, as reported by the LA Times.
According to the LA Times, Medina Leon marked her requests for help as urgent.
It took Medina Leon close to six weeks to get access to medical care to treat his illness. Leon was discharged from the facility in less than six hours after she finally got a doctor.
According to the LA Times, on May 28, the field medical coordinator gave the go-ahead to release the sick prisoner.
The LA Times obtained an email from an official that said there was a potential for a poor outcome if the prisoner became more seriously ill. A second official chimed in, saying that her vitals did not look good.
According to the report, Medina Leon was presented with her parole paperwork at the El Paso hospital that she was rushed to, and in the internal investigation into her death, an ICE agent noted that he had never released a prisoner from a hospital.
According to the emails, she was no longer in ICE custody by that evening. On June 1, Medina Leon passed away. Management and Training Corporation, the private prison group which operates the Otero facility, told Insider in an email that it follows federal HIPPA patient privacy laws and does not comment on specific medical cases.
The company said that they take the medical care of prisoners very seriously. We follow the standards for the prevention, screening, and treatment of infectious diseases.
According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Medina Leon and three other inmates, the agency has rushed to release critically ill inmates before their deaths are reported.
At the time of Medina Leon's death, ICE said they took detainee health seriously and that her death was an unfortunate example of an alien who enters the United States with an un-screened medical condition.
ICE told the LA Times that it takes very seriously the health, safety, and welfare of those in our care, including those who come into ICE custody with prior medical conditions.
Nine deaths were reported in the year Leon died outside of ICE care.
ICE reported 18 deaths in the year of 2020 and five deaths in the year 2014–2018. The agency claims that there have been no deaths in their facilities in the year 2022.
The agency is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union because it ischoosing to release people from custody who are on their deathbeds while they are hospitalized.
The American Civil Liberties Union did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The class-action suit claimed that Martin Vargas Arellano, a 55 year old booked in California in 2020, asked for a release because he was immunocompromised.
He had a stroke at the detention facility after contracting COVID-19. He was still in ICE custody when he was transferred to a local hospital.
ICE served him his release papers three days before he died. According to the LA Times, Arellano was not counted in ICE's deaths in custody for the year and the agency did not notify his family or attorney of his death.
His family and attorney found out about his death after they filed a missing person's report.