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Feinstein Calls for Hearing on Death of ICE Detainee, Conditions at Detention Facilities

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on Chairman Lindsey Graham to hold a committee hearing on safety at ICE detention facilities.

Her call came in the wake of the death of Carlos Escobar-Mejia, a 57-year-old Salvadoran man in ICE custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in California who was being treated for COVID-19.

“The death of Carlos Escobar-Mejia is deeply troubling,” Senator Feinstein said Friday. “ICE is detaining approximately 29,000 individuals in detention centers that have a poor history of medical care.

“Last week, a federal district court judge found conditions at Otay Mesa unconstitutional because detainees are at ‘substantial risk of serious illness or death.’ I call on ICE to do more to save lives, and I call on Chairman Graham to hold a hearing into the death of Escobar-Mejia and conditions at ICE facilities nationwide.”

Senator Feinstein last week sent a letter calling on ICE to immediately reduce the risk of coronavirus infection among ICE detainees.

The full text of today’s letter to Chairman Graham follows:

May 8, 2020

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Graham,

I am requesting that the Judiciary Committee hold a hearing to examine conditions at immigration detention facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, including how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is treating immigrants in its custody.

This past week, an immigrant being detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in California died while being treated for a COVID-19 infection. Carlos Escobar-Mejia, a 57-year-old Salvadoran, died just six days after U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw found that the conditions at the Otay Mesa Detention Center were unconstitutional and put medically vulnerable detainees “at substantial risk of serious illness or death.”

There are approximately 29,000 immigrants in ICE custody. As of today, only 1,528 of those detained immigrants have been tested for coronavirus, and 753 tested positive. This means that nearly half of those tested are already infected with COVID-19.

This warrants the Committee’s immediate attention, and I ask that you hold a hearing into the death of Mr. Escobar-Mejia and conditions at ICE facilities nationwide.


Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator