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Cuban immigrant dies by apparent suicide in ICE custody in Louisiana

Cuban immigrant dies in ICE custody

Washington — A 43-year-old Cuban man detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) died inside a private detention facility in Louisiana on Tuesday, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CBS News. His death was an apparent suicide, the agency said.

Roylan Hernández Díaz died at the Richwood Correctional Center, located in the outskirts of the city of Monroe in northern Louisiana. ICE started to use the prison, operated by the private group LaSalle Corrections, to detain immigrants in custody this year. A spokesperson for LaSalle could not immediately be reached for comment.

ICE confirmed the death hours after CBS News first reported it, saying the preliminary cause of death appears to be "self-inflicted strangulation." According to ICE, Hernández Díaz was found unresponsive in his cell on Tuesday afternoon and efforts by emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful. 

The death is the second one in ICE custody this month. Two weeks ago, BuzzFeed News reported a 37-year-old man from Cameroon held at a facility in San Diego died of a brain hemorrhage. In fiscal year 2019, which ended September 30, eight detained immigrants died in the agency's custody. 

"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," ICE said in a statement on Wednesday. "Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the rate of the U.S. detained population as a whole."

Under internal policy and appropriations law, ICE is required to notify next of kin, consular offices, local stakeholders and Congress when there is a death in custody. ICE on Wednesday said it had notified the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility and the Homeland Security Inspector General. The agency said it had launched an internal investigation. The man's family and Congress were also notified of his death. 

According to ICE, Hernández Díaz was encountered by Border Patrol at the El Paso sector of the U.S.-Mexico border in late May of this year. He was subsequently transferred to ICE, which detained him while his case in immigration court was adjudicated. 

The local coroner's office confirmed to CBS News that there was a death at the Richwood Correctional Facility on Tuesday. The death remains under investigation, the office said. 

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