There has been much criticism and concern lodged by the left in recent months over the allegedly unacceptable conditions to which detainees are subjected while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, but the fact of the matter is that not every unfortunate outcome can be prevented by those overseeing individuals held in facilities around the country, as was illustrated by a sad incident that occurred earlier this week.
An asylum seeker from Cuba reportedly committed suicide while in the custody of ICE at a private prison facility in Louisiana on Tuesday, according to a news release from the agency.
Suicide in ICE custody
The deceased individual was identified as 43-year-old Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, who was reportedly found unresponsive in his cell Tuesday afternoon. Attempts by medical personnel to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was ultimately pronounced dead via self-inflicted strangulation later in the day, according to the Miami Herald.
An investigation into the death is already underway, and the probe is being led by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility.
Hernandez-Diaz had been taken into custody on May 20, 2019 after entering the country at the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas, according to Newsweek. He was being held at the detention facility in Richwood, Lousiana while his asylum claim was moving through the adjudication process.
“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 in the statement. “Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the rate of the U.S. detained population as a whole.”
Cuban seeking asylum in the U.S.
CBS News reported that Hernandez-Diaz had recently engaged in a hunger strike and had likely committed suicide out of frustration over the slow pace of his pending case in the immigration court system. He reportedly requested in August to be paroled and released into the U.S. while his case was still pending but was denied and remained in custody.
Hernandez-Diaz made another request for release in September, only to learn that his day in court had been rescheduled for January.
Wife speaks out
Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Hernandez-Diaz’s wife, 43-year-old Yarelis Gutierrez, explained that she had last talked with her husband following a court hearing on Oct. 9, during which he expressed how “angry and disappointed” he had been that officials had requested he provide further evidence that he would face persecution if returned to Cuba, something that wasn’t exactly easy for him to do while being held in custody.
Gutierrez explained to the media outlet that her husband had been previously imprisoned by the Cuban government for nine years due to public expressions of dissent toward the government and had unsuccessfully attempted to flee the communist-run island nation at least three times, twice in 1994 and then once more in 2001.
She also said that Hernandez-Diaz only told her of his plans to engage in a hunger strike and had said nothing of contemplating suicide. “He never said he was going to hurt or kill himself. This is all news to me and I don’t believe it’s true,” Gutierrez said.
The death of Hernandez-Diaz in ICE custody is truly a tragedy. Hopefully, the investigation will reveal all of the details surrounding his reported suicide and potentially lead to any necessary changes in the procedures and timelines involved in the processing of asylum claims.