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Man from Nicaragua dies in custody at Aurora ICE facility

ICE said Melvin Calero-Mendoza, 39, died at the hospital Thursday.

AURORA, Colo. — A 39-year-old man from Nicaragua died while in custody at the ICE detention facility in Aurora. 

The federal agency said Melvin Calero-Mendoza passed away at a hospital Thursday, but very few other details about his death were released.

"More scrutiny needs to be paid to what it is that took place and the treatment he received from his perspective," said Laura Lunn, director of advocacy and litigation at Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN). 

RMIAN provides legal counsel and services to people in ICE custody. She wants to advocate for Calero-Mendoza, even though he wasn't one of their clients.

"ICE has so much control and power over the narrative that is spun around what is happening within the facilities they own and operate," she said. 

In a press release, ICE didn't share information about the care Calero-Mendoza received. The agency did talk about its commitment to the health and welfare of all of those in custody and the medical care provided to people throughout their stay. 

ICE said it spends more than $315 million on healthcare services provided to people in the agency's custody.

"Very little of the statement actually focused on Melvin," Lunn said. "Instead it focused on the agency and the resources they allocate nationwide."

ICE said an autopsy is still pending to determine an official cause of death. 

According to ICE, Calero-Mendoza entered the United States illegally and he was transferred to ICE custody in May in Aurora. The agency said an immigration judge with the Executive Office of Immigration Review issued a decision on Oct. 5 ordering Calero-Mendoza to be deported.

There is a 30-day period to accommodate any appeals, according to ICE. 

The last time someone in ICE custody died at this Aurora facility was in 2017. 

The ACLU of Colorado had to go to court to get information about that death. They said they struggled to get documents about what happened to Kamyar Samimi, a man from Iran. His family said he was denied access to an opioid withdrawal drug he had been taking for 20 years. 

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"We relied on those documents to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Samimi's kids," said Mark Silverstein, legal director at the ACLU of Colorado. "Mr. Samimi died within two weeks of entering the facility and the neglect and lack of medical care he received or failed to receive was incomprehensible."

A bill passed by Congress in 2018 now requires ICE to make reports regarding an in-custody death public within 90 days. 



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