First Death in Immigration Detention in Fiscal Year 2018

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Denver, CO — Immigrant rights organizations, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Colorado, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) and Detention Watch Network (DWN) are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kamyar Samimi. Samimi, 64, died on Saturday while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Aurora Detention Center. This tragedy marks the first death to occur in ICE immigrant detention in fiscal year 2018.

"RMIAN mourns the death of Mr. Samimi, whose preliminary cause of death is cardiac arrest, while detained at the for-profit civil immigration detention center.  We witness the tragedy of immigration detention on a daily basis.  This death powerfully demonstrates the need for ICE to end immigration detention and pursue alternatives to detention," said RMIAN Board President, Patricia Medige.

Since 2003, 177 people have died in immigrant detention – in fiscal year 2017 alone, there were 12 deaths in detention centers. Recent investigations into deaths in immigration detention, Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention and Systemic Indifference: Dangerous and Substandard Medical Care in US Immigration Detention, have found that inadequate medical care has contributed to numerous deaths. In fact, on November 6th, 2017, just 11 days before Mr. Samimi entered the GEO facility, AFSC Colorado and Regis University held a Day of the Dead themed vigil honoring those who have died in ICE custody and call for an end to the expanding for-profit detention system. 

“The shameful death toll amassed by ICE exposes their inability to guarantee the safety and health of people in their custody,” said Jordan Garcia, Immigrant Ally Organizing Director at AFSC Colorado. “It’s long past time they be held accountable for their shocking disregard for human life. Especially for a community being targeted by President Trump’s Muslim ban, it is our duty to decry ICE’s lack of accountability and transparency.”

Long been documented, we must continue to uncover egregious patterns of abuse and mismanagement. Under President Trump, we have only seen the agency work with increased impunity. And now with the looming government shutdown and ongoing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget negotiations, Members of Congress must make short-term decisions to what degree the deadly agency will be funded. 

“The consequences of Congress rubber stamping Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are dire,” said Danny Cendejas, Organizing Director at Detention Watch Network. “Our elected officials must stand with immigrant communities. It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on the abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system; the lives of our loved ones and our collective future are at stake.”


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit Follow @DetentionWatch.

The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) is a nonprofit organization that provides essential immigration legal services to individuals in civil immigration detention in Colorado, as well as to children throughout the state.