Immigrant dies in Southwest Georgia detention center

Advocates are calling for federal intervention after another person died at the Stewart Detention Center in southwest Georgia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that a 61-year-old man named Salvador Vargas, who was being held in Stewart, died Tuesday. They said he died of complications from a stroke at a nearby hospital.

Vargas is the 11th person to die at the Stewart Detention Center, making Stewart the deadliest detention center in the country. Nine of these people have died since 2017, two of them by suicide.

“I think the question for the Biden administration at this point is what’s stopping them from closing the Stewart Detention Center?” said Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for the nonprofit Project South.

“We have repeatedly asked for this place to be closed, again and again, then there is another tragedy. And then there is another tragedy and another tragedy.”

The private prison company CoreCivic, which runs the detention facility, has been under scrutiny for years over things including lack of access to adequate mental health care, allegations of sexual abuse of women and underpaid forced labour.

In a statement, ICE – which oversees the CoreCivic contract – said it is firmly committed to the health and well-being of those in its care and is reviewing this incident.