ICE Detainee Dies in For-Profit Georgia Immigrant Detention Center

Eight immigrants have died in detention facilities so far this year.

Suspected illegal border crossers at Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, in 2012. Ross D. Franklin/AP

Immigration detention isn’t just costly—it’s deadly. Efrain De La Rosa, a 40-year-old Mexican national, was found unresponsive in his cell at Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center on July 10 and was pronounced dead soon after, according to CNN. The cause of death appears to be suicide, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced last week. 

De La Rosa is the eighth person to die in U.S. immigrant detention centers so far this year. Stewart, which is located in Lumpkin, Georgia, is a for-profit facility owned and operated a company called CoreCivic. That company is one of two, including Geo Group, whose shares climbed steadily after ICE announced in June that it was looking for 15,000 beds for detained immigrant families. 

Since 2002, the number of immigrants detained by ICE has fallen by more than half. But that hasn’t stopped private companies from doubling down on facilities to hold them. The majority of immigrant detainees are kept in compounds owned and operated by CoreCivic or Geo Group, two of America’s largest private prisons. ICE told Congress that it expects to spend $2.7 billion to detain 51,379 people this year.

CoreCivic was formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). In 2014, our reporter Shane Bauer spent four months working as a guard in a Louisiana prison run by the company.