DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado is asking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for more information and records relating to the in-custody death of an Iranian man at the private Aurora detention facility.
Kamyar Samimi, 64, was arrested by ICE agents in Denver on Nov. 17—more than 12 years after he was convicted of cocaine possession in Arapahoe County.
ICE said Samimi “fell ill” on Dec. 2, that emergency responders came to the GEO Group-operated detention center and started performing CPR, and that Samimi later died after being taken to an area hospital.
ICE said at the time his preliminary cause of death was cardiac arrest.
According to ICE, Samimi first entered the U.S. in New York in April 1976 as a student, and became a permanent resident in May 1979. But in January 1987, ICE says, his application for full citizenship was denied because he didn’t submit the correct documents.
Samimi was off the radar of law enforcement after that until the 2005 arrest for possession of cocaine. He received a two-year deferred sentence and 64 hours of community service upon his conviction.
But ICE says that since he was convicted of a felony, he was eligible for removal from the U.S. Agents arrested him at his home Nov. 17.
On Wednesday, the ACLU of Colorado filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with ICE seeking all the records relating to Samimi’s arrest, detention and death.
The ACLU and other organizations have long scrutinized inmate deaths while in ICE custody, and the organization says 177 immigrant detainees have died in ICE custody since 2003. Samimi’s death was the first of the 2017 fiscal year that started Oct. 1, ICE said earlier this month.
“Mr. Samimi’s arrest, detention, and death in custody display the inhumanity of our current federal immigration policies,” said ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Arash Jahanian. “He lived in the US for 40 years. ICE arrested him at his home with the intent to ship him off to a country he no longer knew. Then, they locked him up in a detention facility, where he died two weeks later. ICE gave very little detail about what happened but made sure to mention his 12-year-old drug possession charge. The community deserves better, and that starts with ICE explaining what led to Mr. Samimi’s tragic death.”
Denver7 had previously filed a FOIA request for similar information with ICE that has yet to be filled, and has requested autopsy records from the county as well.