Mi­grant who waited 5 months for asy­lum hear­ing found dead

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Mario J. Pen­tón

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.

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