Immigrants, refugees and those seeking safety at our borders deserve to be welcomed into healthy environments, and to be treated with dignity and respect, especially during times of crisis or emergency. However, the unsanitary and squalid conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Facility and the neglect and abuse detainees face at the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents has lead to the death of 57-year old Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, the first detained person to die of COVID-19.
Alliance San Diego, its partners and other community organizations called attention to Carlos’ horrific death. Now, several California Congressional members have called for an investigation, as well as an assessment of what ICE is doing to protect those detained from COVID-19.
Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, issued the following statement:
“Carlos Escobar-Mejia's life was unnecessarily cut short and other lives are now at risk because of the dangerous health conditions in ICE detention facilities. To prevent further tragedy, it's absolutely imperative that OIG investigate the conditions, care and treatment of detainees, the majority of which are held in southern border states. It's also critical that OIG hold ICE accountable for the jeopardy it has placed people in. We are grateful to Rep. Peters, Rep. Vargas, Sen. Harris, and the Members of Congress who have called for this investigation to bring transparency and oversight to a preventable tragedy and are acting with urgency to save lives.”
Read the letter from the California lawmakers here.