"Detention is verging on a death sentence”

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, May 14, 2020

Washington, DC — In response to the untimely passing of Oscar Lopez Acosta due to complications from COVID-19 after being released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, Silky Shah, Director of Detention Watch Network offered the following statement:

“Let's be clear, immigration detention is verging on a death sentence. People in detention are susceptible to contracting infectious disease, as was likely the case with Lopez Acosta, while existing medical conditions worsen as the result of being in detention. There have been numerous investigations into ICE’s fatally inadequate medical care and neglect, including from the Department of Homeland Security’s own Office of Inspector General, and still ICE continues to operate with a culture of abuse and secrecy. How many more lives need to be lost for our elected officials to speak out and take action against this inhumane system? These are preventable deaths.

Today, Detention Watch Network and immigrant rights advocates from across the country are joining in a national day of action calling on their elected officials to demand ICE release all people from immigration detention now. With Lopez Acosta’s tragic passing our resolve to end this inhumane system intensifies — one life lost is too many.

Today’s action will be the first in a series of national days of action taking place over the next month.”

COVID-19 in ICE detention:

Investigations into deaths in immigration detention:


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.