A 51-year-old man from the Bahamas died in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody on Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of the death.
The man died at the Adams County Detention Center in Natchez, Mississippi. The preliminary cause of death, according to the source, was a heart attack. He had been in ICE custody for more than a year.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He appears to be the first person to have died in ICE custody this fiscal year. In the previous fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 21 immigrants died in ICE custody, the highest annual number since 2005.
In September, the House Oversight Committee found that ICE detainees died after receiving inadequate medical care and that jail workers “falsified records to cover up” issues. That same month, the House Homeland Security Committee released a report that found people detained by ICE are often given deficient medical care, and that detention centers use segregation as a threat against immigrants.
The report was based on tours of eight ICE detention centers, interviews, and facility inspection reports. The committee also found that ICE and its contractors frequently demonstrated an indifference to the mental and physical care of immigrants in their custody.
ICE has publicly insisted that the detention facilities it runs, as well as those that are operated by private, for-profit corporations, provide thorough and adequate medical care to all detainees.
Agency officials have repeatedly said that ICE takes the health and safety of detainees very seriously and while deaths are “unfortunate and always a cause for concern,” they are “exceedingly rare.”