Federal immigration officials opened the beleaguered Eloy immigration detention center to the media yesterday, allowing reporters for the first time to tour the health center, walk through housing units and sample food fed to the 1,056 men and 494 women being held there while they await the outcome of deportation proceedings, the Arizona Republic reports. The media tour was held 10 weeks after 31-year old Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun, a Mexican immigrant, died at the facility 60 miles south of Phoenix, prompting allegations of mistreatment and inadequate medical care at the 1,550 bed facility run by the Corrections Corporation of American under contract with the Department of Homeland Security.
A medical examiner later concluded that Deniz-Sahagun killed himself by stuffing a sock down his throat. A plastic handle was found in his stomach, possibly from a previous suicide attempt. It was the fifth suicide in 10 years at Eloy, which has become the nation’s deadliest immigration detention center. Reporters were not allowed to visit the housing unit where Deniz-Sahagun died or to see the area where detainees deemed suicidal are housed. “ICE takes suicides very seriously and when they do happen we address them immediately and we try to identify going forward what we can do to do better,” said Thomas Giles of the agency’s Phoenix office. Detainees deemed suicidal are placed in a single-person cell under constant supervision by a member of the CCA staff, immigration officials said.