Immigrant in Southwest Georgia detention center dies

Stewart Detention Center is operated by the private corrections company CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. The detention center can hold nearly 2,000 people. (Kate Brumback/Associated Press file)

Advocates are calling for federal intervention after another person died at Stewart Detention Center in southwest Georgia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a 61-year-old man named Salvador Vargas who was in immigrant detention at Stewart died on Tuesday. They said he died at a nearby hospital due to complications from a stroke. 

Vargas is the 11th person to die at Stewart Detention Center, making Stewart the deadliest detention center in the country. Nine of those people have died since 2017 and two were from suicide.

“I think the question at this point to the Biden administration is what is keeping them from shutting down Stewart Detention Center?” said Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for the nonprofit Project South.

“We have been calling for this place to be shut down, repeatedly, time after time, then there’s another tragedy. And then there’s another tragedy and yet, another tragedy.”

The private prison corporation that runs the detention center, CoreCivic, has faced scrutiny for years over things like lack of access to proper mental health care, allegations of sexual abuse against women and forced, underpaid labor. 

In a statement, ICE — which oversees the CoreCivic contract — said it is firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in its custody and is reviewing this incident.