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French Citizen Dies After Entering Immigration Custody 

JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A French citizen died while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, marking the fourth individual since October to pass away after the agency apprehended them.

An unidentified French national died Sunday while at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ICE announced in a Wednesday press release. ICE had taken the individual, who was a 40-year-old native of Angola, into custody before the detainee was admitted to the hospital and passed away.

An autopsy is being completed to discover the official cause of death, and the agency is withholding further details until the next of kin is notified.

“Consistent with the agency’s protocols, the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies have been notified about the death, as have the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility,” the ICE press release read.

A man in prison is pictured. Shutterstock

A man in prison is pictured. Shutterstock

So far, four people have died while in ICE custody in fiscal year 2020, which began in October.

Authorities believe Anthony Oluseye Akinyemi, a 56-year-old Nigerian man, committed suicide after they placed him into ICE custody in December. Akinyemi was ordered to be deported after he was arrested and found guilty of sexual abuse against a minor. Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, a Cuban national, also died of an apparent suicide while in ICE custody in October. Earlier that month, Nebane Abienwi of Cameroon passed away while in the agency’s custody in San Diego, with his passing relating to a brain hemorrhage.

Deaths of those in U.S. immigration custody, while rare compared to the massive number of individuals placed into ICE on a daily basis, has sparked criticism from Democratic members of Congress and other opponents of immigration enforcement. The agency, however, states that inmates’ health is a top priority.

“ICE 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. Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the national average for the U.S. detained population,” the agency said following Akinyemi’s death.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — a separate agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — announced Tuesday the formalization of a health care directive, which aims to better protect the physical well-being of those in their custody.

“Since the Centers for Disease Control began working with the Department of Homeland Security and issued their recommendations in January, DHS has successfully implemented CDC’s top recommendations for the reduction of transmission of respiratory illness (particularly influenza),” a CBP spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Homeland Security Chief Orders Review Of State Laws Allowing Driver’s Licenses For Illegal Aliens)

“This new directive updates the responsibilities and procedures from the interim directive,” the CBP spokesperson continued.

ICE, for its part, reiterated Wednesday that it spends more than $269 million on health care services for its detainees.

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