The Eloy Detention Center in Arizona has been a hotbed of controversy for years. With detainees staging hunger strikes and John Legend and Juanes protesting outside the center, the former federal prison – which houses more than 1,500 undocumented immigrants – has received constant scrutiny. And because the deplorable conditions have led to several deaths, tireless activists have worked to get Eloy shut down. This week, a Guatemalan woman became the 15th person to die in the facility since 2003. 36-year-old Raquel Calderon de Hidalgo died Sunday at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, according to AZ Central.
After a series of seizures, Eloy’s medical staff called paramedics. Calderon, who had no criminal history and awaited deportation back to Guatemala, continued to experience seizures on the way to the hospital. She is the third person to die in an ICE detention center around the country just since October 1, 2016. In 2015, The Republic found that more undocumented immigrants have died at Eloy than any other facility.
After Jesus Deniz Sahagun’s suspicious death in Eloy in May 2015, US Rep. Raúl Grijalva called for an independent investigation into the center. “Eloy has had 14 detainee deaths in just 12 years – that’s appalling, no matter how you look at it,” he said. “ICE’s policies state that they review each death, so it begs the question, what are they finding in their reviews? What are they doing to fix this problem? Clearly, not enough.”
Calderon’s death comes on the heels of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s order for a DHS evaluation of detention centers run by private for-profit companies. Johnson asked the advisory committee to reach a decision by November 30.