Migrant who waited 5 months for asylum hearing found dead
MIAMI — After five months in U.S detention waiting for a court hearing on his asylum application, Cuban migrant Roylan Hernandez Diaz apparently died by suicide Tuesday at the Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana., U.S. officials confirmed.
Relatives told El Nuevo Herald that Hernandez, 43, feared being deported to Cuba and that at the time of his death he was being held in an isolation area known as “the pit.”
“The preliminary cause of death appears to be selfinflicted strangulation, but the case is currently under investigation. In accordance with the agency’s protocols, the appropriate agencies have been notified about the death, including the Office of the Inspector General of the Homeland Security Department and the ICE Office for Professional Responsibility,” the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) said in a statement sent to the Nuevo Herald.
Hernandez recently appeared before an immigration court, and relatives said he told the guards that he would leave the detention center “free or dead.”
“He was afraid of being deported to Cuba. He had recently received a date for another court hearing. Those people inside are desperate,” one of the relatives said.
Hernandez and his wife crossed the border May 18 in El Paso, Texas, according to the ICE statement. Fellow cell mates told El Nuevo Herald that he had staged a hunger strike to protest conditions at the detention center.
“They were hopeful that they would be freed or at least released on parole, but months went by and they were still detained. In Louisiana, the detainees face very bad conditions. They are treated badly, and the authorities don’t believe that they are politically persecuted,” said one relative who requested anonymity because of fear of reprisals.
Another Cuban migrant, Osleivy Carnaval, sewed his lips together to protest the denial of his political asylum application. During the Trump administration, more than 800 Cubans have been deported to the island, many of them subjected to expedited removals after U.S. immigration courts denied their requests.
“The other detainees in Roylan’s cell have decided to ... protest his death and the bad conditions under which the detainees are held. We relatives are desperate and we don’t have news of what’s happening with them. We need someone who will listen to us,” said another relative who requested anonymity.