ICE Officer Cleared After Detainee Dies in Detention Center

A federal judge recently dismissed charges filed against an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency officer by the widow of Hiu Lui Ng, a 34-year-old illegal Chinese immigrant who died of liver cancer while in a Connecticut detention center.

Ng’s wife recently tried to sue Immigration and Customs Operations Coordinator Lawrence Smith for medical neglect related to her husband’s condition, The Associated Press reported. Ng, a computer engineer based in New York City, died approximately one week after meeting with Smith.

Ng’s death is hardly an isolated occurrence in the U.S. detainer system.

Guinea citizen Boubacar Bah, a tailor who had overstayed his U.S. tourist visa, died in 2007 from injuries sustained while in a detention facility, according to The New York Times. After having an accidental fall that led to head trauma, Bah was placed in solitary confinement by guards. Finally taken to the hospital, Bah died after four months of being in a coma from multiple brain hemorrhages and a skull fracture. Bah’s family only found out about his condition after a desperate search, as no guards or immigration officials notified them.

After being compelled by Congress to compile a list of those who had died in detainer facilities, ICE revealed 66 people perished while in custody between 2004 and 2007, the Times reported.

While ICE is now required to contact next of kin within 24 hours of the death and report the news in a language that the deceased’s kin can understand, activists say immigration services related to medical aid for those in detention need to be addressed.