Family of ICE detainee who died of COVID-19 sues for wrongful death

Migrant Centers

Carlos Ernesto Escobar died last week after being infected with COVID-19 while in custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. (Courtesy: Rosa Escobar).

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Carlos Escobar Mejia died in a hospital after contracting COVID-19 while being held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in south San Diego County. He is considered the first person to die while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

The Otay Mesa Detention Center is run by a private company called CoreCivic under the direction of ICE.

In the suit, Escobar’s family claims “negligence, deliberate indifference to serious health and safety needs and wrongful death.”

Furthermore, they claim Escobar was held in conditions that would “expose him to a deadly disease.”

And that CoreCivic “deprived him of protective equipment, proper social distance, appropriate treatment, and all with the knowledge and participation of ICE and its officials.”

The family maintains Escobar’s death “did not have to happen.”

Otay Mesa Detention Center houses mostly migrants awaiting trial. It is operated by a private company based in Tennessee. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

ICE has said it does not comment on pending litigation.

As for CoreCivic, it directed the media to a previous statement made after Escobar died:

“We extend our heartfelt sympathy to this individual’s loved ones.”

Records show Escobar was first detained in January after being arrested by the Border Patrol while riding in a friend’s car in San Diego’s East County. He has previously held for an immigration violation eight years earlier in Los Angeles.

He was denied bail and ordered held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

On April 24, Escobar was taken to a hospital and put on a ventilator.

“By the time defendant transported him to the hospital, Mr. Escobar was gasping for air and dying,” the lawsuit says. “He received a blood transfusion but he had already been too weakened by the virus.”

No monetary claim was made. The legal action calls for a jury to determine the amount of money to which the family might be entitled.

Including Escobar, eight migrant detainees nationwide have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

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