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GBI: ICE detainee hanged himself in S. Georgia immigration detention center

Second ICE detainee to hang himself in Georgia since last year

The Mexican national who died Tuesday in the custody of federal authorities hanged himself in a South Georgia immigration detention center, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed Friday.

Efrain De La Rosa, 40, was found alone in his solitary confinement cell this week at the privately operated Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, said Terry Howard, the assistant special agent in charge for GBI’s Americus office.

The GBI conducted an autopsy as part of its investigation into whether foul play was involved in his death. The Stewart County Sheriff’s Office is also taking part in the probe.

»  Federal immigration detainee dies in South Georgia

De La Rosa suffered from bipolar disorder, a disease that can cause sudden and extreme mood shifts, said his younger brother, Isai Romero. The GBI doesn’t intend to look into how authorities at Stewart cared for De La Rosa because that is not within the scope of the state agency’s work, Howard said.

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“We are just looking into the death,” he said. “We still have a lot of documents to go through on our end. We like to complete these types of investigations as soon as possible.”

Last year, the GBI completed a similar investigation of the death of Jean Jimenez-Joseph, a Stewart detainee who hanged himself in his solitary confinement cell. The GBI found no foul play in his death. Jimenez had a history of suicide attempts and had been institutionalized before the federal government took custody of him and placed him in solitary confinement for 19 days.

On Thursday, a group of immigrant rights organizations — El Refugio Ministry, Georgia Detention Watch, Project South, Southern Poverty Law Center and Detention Watch Network — called for an investigation of what happened to De La Rosa, noting he is the third Stewart detainee to die since May of last year.

“We express our deepest condolences to De La Rosa’s family and affirm our resolve to fight to end to immigration detention in his name,” said Amilcar Valencia, executive director of El Refugio Ministry.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday that senior officials from the agency are reviewing what happened to De La Rosa.

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

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