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ICE Detainee Dies in Georgia After Testing Positive for COVID-19

A detention officer walks through the halls at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
A detention officer walks through the halls at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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A 34-year-old Guatemalan man has died after testing positive for COVID-19 in southwest Georgia’s large immigration detention center. He’d been hospitalized for over a month, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Santiago Baten-Oxlag is the second person reported to have died from coronavirus while under ICE custody. He was arrested in early March after a conviction for driving under the influence.

Immigrant advocates have had long-running concerns about conditions at the Georgia facility where Baten-Oxlag was held.

“It’s tragic. This is the fifth death at the Stewart Detention Facility in three years,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director for Project South. 

As of last week, a total of 16 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 according to ICE. Advocates, however, have doubts about that figure given that 53 employees have tested positive. 

According to its own website, nearly half the detainees ICE has tested nationwide have confirmed positive for coronavirus. 

In a statement, ICE said it’s reviewing Baten-Oxlag’s death internally and is committed to the health and welfare of its detainees.