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First immigration detainee dies from COVID-19 in U.S.

(Xinhua)    08:40, May 08, 2020

LOS ANGELES, May 7 (Xinhua) -- A 57-year-old immigrant who was arrested this January and in custody since then was confirmed dead from novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Southern California, local media reported Thursday, saying it is the country's first known death of a detainee during the pandemic.

According to CBS news, Craig Sturak, spokesperson for the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency, said the detainee died Wednesday morning in a San Diego-area hospital after being transferred in April from the privately operated Otay Mesa Detention Center located near the United States and Mexico border.

The NBC 7 news channel reported the detainee's name is Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, who had lived in the United States since the 1980s, including 20 years in Los Angeles.

Joan Del Valle, immigration attorney of Escobar Mejia, was quoted as saying that her client was transferred to the Otay Mesa Detention Center after being picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in January during the arrest of someone he was in a car with.

Del Valle said Escobar Mejia had undergone surgeries and suffered from diabetes, was denied bond on April 15 by an immigration judge.

U.S. ICE would neither confirm nor deny the death, the report said, adding CoreCivic Inc., the private company that operates the detention center, didn't respond to a request for comment.

Otay Mesa has been the epicenter of COVID-19 in San Diego. As of Wednesday, 132 of ICE's 705 positive cases were at the San Diego facility.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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