ACLU claims secrecy shrouds Colorado ICE cases amid Iranian detainee's death

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 20:00:47-04

DENVER — The secrecy surrounding the immigration cases at the border mimics what the ACLU says has been happening here in Colorado for years.

An Iranian detainee died at that facility in Decemberand details about what happened are still hard to come by, despite several FOIA requests from Denver7 and the ACLU.

And new research by the ACLU indicates a pattern of egregious and insufficient medical treatment at detention facilities.

The GEO Group’s Aurora ICE Processing Center is privately run but contracted out by the U.S. government as an immigrant detention facility.

In December, 64-year-old Iranian detainee Kamyar Samimi died at the facility. He had been in the U.S. for 40 years, was taken into custody last November and died two weeks later.

His death is largely a mystery, with the exception of an autopsy report that indicates cardiac arrest which may be linked to methadone withdrawal.

How Samimi was treated while in custody is unclear.

And some, including the ACLU and Congressman Jared Polis, are reexamining the secrecy surrounding this case.

It's especially timely given the current issues with children being detained at the border.

“All the secretiveness around all of this - whether what's happening with the current families or what happened to this poor gentleman who died here, it's - we're getting no information,” said protester Jon Weber. “And that's the reason I came down here on my lunch break, just to see what was going on."

"We've requested the records, we've received next to nothing,” said staff attorney for ACLU Colorado Arash Jahanian. “Our request is currently on appeal - and there's very little information out there, and we feel the public has a right to know in this very serious case."

Jahanian says there is a lack of transparency.

“This cloud of secrecy around the immigration process and ICE detention is nothing new. And it is certainly being revealed here; the public knows next to nothing about what happened to this man who had been in custody for two weeks.”

According to the ACLU, 2017 was the worst year for deaths in ICE detention facilities since 2009.