Salvador Vargas, a 61-year-old Mexican man and incarcerated migrant, died April 4 at a hospital in Columbus, Georgia. He had been detained at the Stewart Detention Center, some 40 miles away in Lumpkin, Georgia. The hospital declared that the cause of death was complications from a stroke.
Stewart has a capacity of more than 2,000 detainees. The center is owned and operated by CoreCivic, a private corporation that reaps enormous profits from incarcerating immigrants. And 11 people have died at Stewart, nine since 2017.
Georgia Detention Watch, in collaboration with several other immigrant rights groups, has demanded the closure of Stewart and all other ICE detention centers. The groups point to the more than 200 deaths of people while held in ICE custody in the last 20 years.
The list of documented abuses in the joint press release includes “inept mental health care, use of solitary confinement, unsanitary conditions, COVID-19 negligence, medical neglect, forced labor and sexual assault by staff at Stewart.” (tinyurl.com/2p9y7dzx)
April 15 and May 6 demonstrations planned
A continuing effort to shut down the Folkston ICE Processing Center is set for Saturday, April 15. Folkston is another very large, privately operated detention facility managed by the GEO Group. Located close to the Florida border, it is in a poor Georgia county with few job opportunities. A statewide coalition called Shut Down ICE in Georgia is coordinating this demonstration. (Shut Down ICE in Georgia)