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A Man From Cameroon Has Died In ICE Custody In San Diego

The death is the first in ICE custody in the new fiscal year, which began Tuesday.

Last updated on October 2, 2019, at 9:26 p.m. ET

Posted on October 2, 2019, at 2:17 p.m. ET

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Detainees at Otay Mesa immigration detention center in San Diego in 2018.

A 37-year-old man from Cameroon died in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody Tuesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage, according to information given to Congressional officials.

Nebane Abienwi arrived at the southern border on Sept. 5 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and applied for protection, federal immigration officials said. Abienwi was then transferred into ICE custody on Sept. 19 and detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.

On Thursday, he was rushed to Sharp’s Chula Vista Medical Center in Chula Vista, California, after "experiencing a hypertensive event" in the middle of the night. When he arrived at the hospital, doctors found him unresponsive and apparently paralyzed on his left side, and began treatment.

On Tuesday, Abienwi was pronounced dead at the hospital. The cause of death was identified as brain death secondary to basal ganglia hemorrhage, ICE said.

Abienwi’s next of kin and the Consulate General of Cameroon have been notified.

"ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases," agency officials said. "Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a small fraction of the rate of the U.S. detained population as a whole."

Abienwi’s death is the first in ICE custody in the new fiscal year, which began Tuesday, and comes after eight inmates died in the agency's custody in fiscal year 2019.


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