Fourth ICE detainee dies from COVID-19 in southwest Georgia

Stewart Detention Center has recorded 474 cases of the disease among detainees since pandemic began

A Mexican national who was being held at a federal immigration center in southwest Georgia died Saturday from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to Stewart County Coroner Sybil Ammons.

Felipe Montes, 57, died at Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release. ICE said his preliminary cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest, secondary to complications of coronavirus disease.” Montes was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 10, two weeks after federal immigration authorities took custody of him, ICE said.

Montes is the fourth Stewart Detention Center detainee to die from the disease. Located just outside of the small city of Lumpkin, the facility has recorded 474 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the second highest of any ICE facility in the nation. Only La Palma Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona, has tallied more cases at 544.

Nationwide, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has documented 9,099 confirmed COVID-19 cases among people being held in its detention centers, as of Wednesday. Nine of them have died from their illnesses, including three other Stewart detainees: Cipriano Chavez-Alvarez, 61, a Mexican national, who died in September; Jose Guillen-Vega, 70, of Costa Rica, who died in August; and Santiago Baten-Oxlaj, 34, of Guatemala, who died in May.

“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody,” ICE said, “and is undertaking a comprehensive, agency-wide review of this incident, as it does following all deaths in custody.”