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Enforcement and Removal

ICE detainee dies at Los Angeles-area hospital

LOS ANGELES - A 30-year-old Guatemalan national being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pending immigration removal proceedings died Friday morning at Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital (KRH) in Los Angeles following complications from a brain tumor.

Ernesto Gomez-Vasquez, an ICE detainee at the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, Calif., was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital Jan. 4, 2010, after complaining of a headache and dizziness. When extensive tests revealed Gomez had a large brain tumor, he was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery to remove portions of the tumor and relieve the pressure on his brain. On Jan. 6, a second emergency surgery was performed to insert an intracranial pressure monitor. On Feb, 26, Gomez was transferred to KRH.

Gomez came into ICE custody July 13, 2009. Following his arrest by ICE, Gomez was screened by medical professionals from ICE's Division of Immigration Health Services. At that time, he did not report any health problems and the medical screening did not reveal any preexisting conditions.

Prior to his death, ICE notified Gomez's family in the United States and they had opportunities to visit him. Guatemalan Consular officials were also advised by ICE of Gomez's medical condition and alerted his father in Guatemala. The family was notified of Gomez's death by the medical staff at KRH. Consistent with ICE protocol, the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies have also been informed.

Gomez is the third detainee to pass away in ICE custody in fiscal year 2010.