ICE detainee of Indian origin dies in Georgia

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer with a detainee. (Photo:

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has contacted Indian consular authorities over the death of an Indian national in an Atlanta hospital, according to a May 17 press release from ICE.

An Indian national who was briefly in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Atlanta City Detention Center for two days died May 16 afternoon at Grady Memorial Hospital, ICE said.

Atulkumar Babubhai Patel, 58, was pronounced dead at at 1:20 p.m. The preliminary cause of death was ruled to be complications from congestive heart failure, according to the ICE press release.

Patel arrived at the Atlanta airport May 10 aboard a flight from Quito, Ecuador. U.S. Customs and Border Protection subsequently denied him entry to the country as he did not possess the necessary immigration documents, ICE said.

Patel was transferred into ICE custody May 11, at the Atlanta City Detention Center where he received an initial medical screening and was identified to have high blood pressure and diabetes. “On Saturday, two days after he entered ICE custody, a nurse checking Mr. Patel’s blood sugar noticed he had shortness of breath and he was promptly transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for additional evaluation and treatment where he later died,” ICE said.

The agency advised Indian consular representatives who have notified Patel’s next of kin, ICE said. It also notified state health and local law enforcement agency, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, and any other relevant agencies.

“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,” the agency said, adding that fatalities “are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the rate of the U.S. detained population as a whole.”

Patel is the eighth individual to pass away in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017, the agency said.

In a report on the first 100 days of the Trump administration signing Executive Orders regarding immigration enforcement priorities, ICE said it has arrested more than 41,000 individuals who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally. “This reflects an increase of 37.6 percent over the same period in 2016,” it said.

Between Jan. 22 and April 29, 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers administratively arrested 41,318 individuals on civil immigration charges. Between Jan. 24 and April 30, 2016, ERO arrested 30,028.

“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” the agency said. While ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, the agency said, “when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.”



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