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Jamaican detainee dies in Louisiana hospital

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The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says a Jamaican national in its custody has died at Lafayette General Hospital in Lafayette, LA.

The cause of death is believed to be cardiac arrest, ICE said on Tuesday.

ICE said Roger Rayson, 47, was transferred from the LaSalle Detention Facility to LaSalle General Hospital on Feb. 11 for nausea, vomiting and increased pain, and died Monday.

Rayson was admitted for dehydration and further evaluation, ICE said.

It said LaSalle General Hospital diagnosed Rayson with Burkitt Lymphoma (non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma).

On Mar. 4, ICE said LaSalle General Hospital transferred Rayson to Lafayette General Hospital. Layfayette General Hospital medical staff declared Rayson deceased Mar. 13 at 3:20 p.m. Central time, ICE said.

“Consistent with agency protocols, the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies have been advised of the death, as have the [US] Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibi­lity,” ICE said. “ICE has also informed Jamaican consular officials and the deceased’s next of kin.”

ICE said Rayson was arrested on Nov. 24, 2014, by US Customs and Border Protection in Miami for possession of cocaine.

On April 24, 2015, ICE said Rayson was convicted of importation of cocaine and sentenced to 30 months incarceration by the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons released Rayson to the custody of New Orleans ICE on Jan. 28, 2017, ICE said.

It said Rayson is the second detainee to pass away in its custody in fiscal year 2017.

Rayson’s death comes as US President Donald Trump has vowed a hiring surge of 10,000 immigration and customs officers to accelerate the deportation of unauthorized Caribbean and other immigrants.

But the aggressive pace he has laid out risks adds to the ranks rogue agents, who have been charged with abusing immigrants, said the New York Times on Tuesday.

Over the past decade, it said dozens of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and contract guards responsible for the detention and removal of undocumented immigrants have been arrested and charged with beating people, smuggling drugs into detention centers, having sex with detainees and accepting bribes to delay or stop deportations, agency documents and court records show.

While these officials make up a small fraction of the work force at the agency, now comprising almost 20,000 people, former Homeland Security officials and human rights workers say that even a few bad officers can be a problem, “because they hold such power over a vulnerable population,” according to the Times.

John Roth, the US Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, told a US Senate committee in February that the agency would “face a number of challenges” in executing Trump’s executive orders because it had “inadequate systems to track and process applicants.”

Justin Mazzola, deputy director of research for Amnesty International in New York, echoed similar sentiments about Trump’s plans.

“Given the things that have been documented in the past — beatings, sexual assaults and other abuses — it doesn’t seem like they have much oversight of the people they have now,” he said. “And they want to add more?”

John F. Kelly, the US Homeland Security secretary, has directed the agency to “take all appropriate action to expeditiously hire 10,000 agents and officers,” as directed by Trump in his executive order.

The Times said ICE does not administer lie detector test to applicants, stating that, in 2016, the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility sought permission to use pre-employment polygraph examinations for law enforcement applicants similar to those used by the Border Patrol and Secret Service, but added that the proposal stalled.

Updated 5:04 pm, March 20, 2017
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