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DHS Acknowledges 11 Unreported Deaths in Immigration Detention

Responding to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Homeland Security today acknowledged 11 deaths of immigrants in U.S. detention facilities that the agency had previously failed to disclose.

In April, DHS responded to the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with a “comprehensive” list of all deaths in detention, which totaled 90 people. Today, the agency said it realized it had overlooked 11 more. The government has now admitted to 104 deaths of immigrants in detention since 2003.

“Today’s announcement confirms our very worst fears,” said David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, in a statement. “For too long, the system of detaining immigration detainees has been devoid of transparency and accountability. This forces us to question even further whether there are still more deaths that somehow have gone unaccounted for.”

The Obama administration recently announced a new plan to improve the conditions of immigration detention, including strengthening federal oversight of the sprawling system that now houses about 32,000 detainees across 350 local jails, state prisons and contract facilities.

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