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A 37-Year-Old Nicaraguan Woman Died In ICE Custody After Testing Positive For COVID-19


El Valle Detention Center / Photo Credit: Claire Harbage/NPR

A Nicaraguan woman in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) passed away Tuesday, Aug. 3, at Valley Baptist Medical Center (VBMC) in Harlingen, Texas. She was pronounced dead at 2:03 p.m. CST by medical professionals at the South Texas hospital.

Elba Maria Centeno Briones, 37, entered ICE custody July 27, and was taken to the El Valle Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas. Upon arrival to an ICE facility, all detainees are medically screened and administered a COVID-19 test by ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) personnel. Centeno Briones’ test results came back positive that same day, she began to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and was taken to the hospital.

The official cause of death had not yet been determined

On July 26, U.S. Border Patrol apprehended Centeno Briones after she entered the United States illegally near Brownsville, Texas. On July 27, U.S. Border Patrol turned over Centeno Briones to ICE.

ICE notified the Nicaraguan consulate and Centeno Briones’ next of kin. The death remains under investigation.

All people in ICE custody receive medical, dental and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care.

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