Wednesday, May 20, 2020
The Guardian reports that a 74-year-old South Korean man died of apparent suicide at an immigration detention center after advocates unsuccessfully sought his release, citing a high risk of his being infected with the coronavirus.
Choung Woong Ahn was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday at the Mesa Verde Ice Processing Center in Bakersfield, California. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the case remains under investigation.
The ACLU of Southern California issued a press release offering this background:
"Choung Won Ahn, who had diabetes, hypertension and several heart-related issues, had been held in Mesa Verde since February 21. In March, a group of attorneys made an urgent plea to release Ahn and others with serious pre-existing health problems because of the high probability they could contract COVID-19 while in detention.
But Ahn’s repeated pleas to be released were rejected by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Ahn’s immigration attorneys at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland said they notified of their client’s death by Department of Homeland Security officials.
`We are processing, and we are very emotionally upset,' said Ahn’s brother, Young Ahn. `We are angry. He did not deserve to be treated this way. He’s a human being, but to them, he’s just a number. There are other people in the same situation. It shouldn’t be happening again.'”