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April 6, 2023Atlanta, GA, United StatesDetainee Death Notifications

Noncitizen in ICE custody passes away at Georgia hospital

ATLANTA — A 61-year-old Mexican man in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Georgia passed away Tuesday, April 4 at the Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. The preliminary cause of death was reported by hospital medical officials to be complications from a stroke.

Salvador Vargas was pronounced deceased at 4:52 p.m. (EDT) by medical professionals.

Vargas was encountered by ICE at the Dalby Correctional Institution in Post, Texas following his February 2010 conviction in Superior Court for drug possession.

Consistent with the agency’s protocols, the appropriate agencies have been notified about the death, including the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Additionally, ICE has notified the Mexican Consulate of Vargas’ death; Mexican consular officials have notified his next of kin.

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.

ICE remains committed to ensuring that all those in its custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments. Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment individuals arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay. All people in ICE custody receive medical, dental, and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to medical appointments and 24-hour emergency care.

Pursuant to our commitment to the welfare of those in the agency’s custody, ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) executed an operating budget of nearly $324 million on the spectrum of healthcare services provided to people in ICE custody in fiscal year 2022. At no time during detention is a detained noncitizen denied emergent care.