Death of Undocumented Man Detained in New Jersey Raises Questions, Alarms

WNYC | June 29, 2017 | Immigration
ICE says Rolando Meza Espinoza died because of existing medical condition, his family says he was denied proper medication

The death on June 10 of an undocumented immigrant, Rolando Meza Espinoza, at the Jersey City Medical Center after having been transferred from the Hudson County Correctional Facility has outraged Mr. Espinoza’s family and civil and immigrant rights’ groups. Protesters gathered at the correctional facility on Monday night to highlight questions about his death.

Meza Espinoza is the 10th person to die after being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since October. The Honduran national was arrested by ICE in April at his Long Island construction job. He had a range of medical problems including cirrhosis of the liver, anemia, and diabetes, and his health deteriorated rapidly when he was in custody.

Questions surround Meza Espinoza’s death, including what medical care he was given. Speaking on the WNYC program The Takeaway yesterday, Betsy Blum, vice president of policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, said, “What we’ve been told by the federal government and by the Hudson County detention center is that Rolando died from complications from his existing medical condition. But what we’ve been told by his family and his family’s lawyer is that he wasn’t receiving the proper medication.”

Blum criticized both ICE and the Hudson County facility for initially providing “garbled information” about Meza Espinoza’s death — including misidentifying him. Moreover, she said, Meza Espinoza’s family did not learn of his death for several days, and only then when they called to check on him.

The death of Meza Espinoza “is a real pulse point on the conditions of our immigration detention system,” Blum said.

Read the full story on WNYC News Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.