WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) responded today to the death of a 36-year-old woman being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at Eloy Detention Center, a for-profit detention center in Arizona. Raquel Calderón de Hildago is the third detainee to die in the past two months in ICE facilities, and the 15th immigrant fatality at Eloy since 2003.
“I am disturbed to learn of yet another life lost in Eloy Detention Center,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Raquel Calderón de Hildago is the latest victim in a long and tragic history of fatal neglect at for-profit prisons and detention centers. Sadly, Eloy plays a leading role in establishing this troubling history, and its continued operation outside of Phoenix is tarnishing our state.
“Transparency and accountability about the rising number of detainee deaths is desperately needed for the families seeking closure, and for our nation to ultimately end this public health crisis. The Department of Homeland Security should make public the results of its investigation into Raquel’s death at the earliest possible opportunity. They should do the same with the results of any other death investigations that are not yet public. It is also imperative that the Homeland Security Advisory Council subcommittee’s evaluation of private detention facilities take into consideration the grave record of care and the resulting deaths in these facilities. This latest heartbreak is another reason why our federal government should cut ties with the for-profit prison industry once and for all.”
Rep. Grijalva has consistently called for accountability and action following deaths at the Eloy Detention Center. In July 2014, he called for the release of DHS’s internal reviews of the Eloy facility after José de Jesús Deniz Sahagún was found dead in his solitary confinement cell. Grijalva later shared Deniz Sahagún’s story in an op-ed raising awareness about medical neglect at for-profit detention centers.
Grijalva also joined forces with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce the Justice Is Not For Sale Act, legislation that would end the federal government’s use of private detention facilities and implement justice reforms to help address mass incarceration in the United States.