Immigrant Rights Activists Hold Day of the Dead Events Across the Country to Honor Lives Taken by Immigration Detention While Urgently Demanding the Biden Administration Take Action

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, November 1, 2021

Washington, DC — In honor of the Latin American holiday, Day of the Dead, 10 events are happening across the country  to remember the lives taken by the immigration enforcement system and demand urgent action in coordination with Detention Watch Network and the We Are Home Campaign. Since Biden took office, five people have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. This follows ICE’s highest death toll in 15 years with 21 deaths occurring in FY 2020. 

Day of the Dead events began on October 28 and will conclude on November 10. Today’s and tomorrow’s events, November 1-2, include (complete event list is below):

November 1

November 2

Medical standards developed and implemented by ICE have proven inadequate time and again leading to preventable deaths of people in their custody. Recent investigations into deaths in immigration detention, Code Red: The Fatal Consequences of Dangerously Substandard Medical Care 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 ICE medical care has contributed to numerous deaths and that the agency lacks urgency and transparency when reporting deaths in its custody.

Marcela Hernandez, Organizing Director at Detention Watch Network, said:

“Biden’s continued actions to expand the immigration detention system despite the administration’s ongoing promises to end the use of for-profit detention and roll back ICE’s fundamentally flawed system is shameful. Detention centers represent abuse, trauma, and sometimes death. People are losing their lives to a detention system that simply does not need to exist. The Biden Administration must shut down immigration detention facilities, end detention contracts, and release people from detention immediately.”

Sonia Lin, Executive Strategy Director at We Are Home Campaign, said:

“Contrary to commitments made by the Biden administration to create a just and humane immigration system, the number of people in detention has increased at an alarming rate since the administration took office. In addition, the administration is expanding detention capacity through new contracts with private prison companies, while shamefully continuing to defend Trump-era policies, like Title 42, and doubling down on racist and anti-Black border enforcement that disproportionately impacts Haitian migrants. The Biden administration has made detention central to its response to migration. The administration’s choice to make detention central to its response to migration is deeply disappointing. mmigration detention is inherently harmful, abusive and unjust. President Biden must act urgently to release people from ICE custody and close detention facilities without further delay.”

Complete list of Day of the Dead Related Events, October 28 - November 10:


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition 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 Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.