In April, a 54-year-old immigrant from Mexico died after several feverish days in a solitary cell. In May, a 21-year-old man from India hung himself in an Arizona jail. On June 1, a 25-year-old asylum seeker named Johana Medina Leon died in a Texas hospital after nearly six weeks in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The deaths of three ICE detainees since April, along with the release of several internal and watchdog reports documenting dismal conditions at ICE detention centers, have prompted an outcry from advocates who say the Trump administration is pushing growing numbers of immigrants into a detention system ill-equipped to care for them.
"What we're seeing is a reckless and unprecedented expansion of a system that is punitive, harmful and costly," said Katharina Obser, senior policy adviser at the Women's Refugee Commission, an advocacy group. "The U.S. government is not even doing the bare minimum to ensure are getting the medical care and the mental health care they need."
Twenty-four immigrants have died in ICE custody during the Trump administration, according to an NBC News analysis of federal data. At least four others, including Medina Leon, died shortly after being released from ICE custody.
The number of in-custody deaths remains below the peak of 32 deaths in 2004, the first full calendar year records were kept. The tally does not include migrants, including five children, who have died in the custody of other federal agencies. The recent spate of deaths comes as the number of immigrants in federal custody hits a record high.
As of early June, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 immigrants a day in a sprawling network of more than 200 detention centers across the country — up from about 34,000 under the Obama administration.