ICE Detainee Facing Deportation Apparently Kills Himself in Georgia Detention Center

Authorities are investigating after an ICE detainee facing possible deportation apparently killed himself.

Efrain De La Rosa, 40, was found unresponsive in a cell at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, on Tuesday night and was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

The apparent cause of death was self-inflicted strangulation, the agency said Thursday, adding that the case is under investigation.

De La Rosa, a Mexican national, was in removal proceedings at the time of his death, ICE said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death at the request of the local sheriff. There is no indication of foul play, GBI Special Agent in Charge Danny Jackson said.

A preliminary investigation revealed De La Rosa was alone in an isolation cell at the detention center when officials there found him, Jackson said.

It was not immediately clear why De La Rosa had been placed in isolation.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said he could not provide additional comment because an agency review of the death is ongoing.

Amanda Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for CoreCivic, which owns and operates the facility, said the company is fully cooperating with investigators but declined to comment further because of the active investigation.

De La Rosa is the eighth detainee to die in ICE custody in the 2018 fiscal year, the agency said.

De La Rosa’s death comes less than six months after the death of another ICE detainee who had been in custody at Stewart.

Yulio Castro Garrido, a 33-year-old Cuban national, was diagnosed with pneumonia at Stewart and was hospitalized as his condition worsened. He died in January at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

And in May 2017, Jean Jimenez-Joseph, a 27-year-old Panamanian national, killed himself in solitary confinement at Stewart.

Immigrant rights groups swiftly criticized the facility as word of De La Rosa’s death spread.

“The deaths and systematic abuse at Stewart are not only tragic, but infuriating,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South.

ICE said it is conducting an agency-wide review of De La Rosa’s death and “is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody.”