NEW MEXICO – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico grieves the death of Jhon Javier Benavides Quintana, who died on June 15 in the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, NM. Benavides Quintana, 32, was detained in civil immigration custody at the time of his death. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported his death on June 18. 

The ACLU of New Mexico calls on ICE to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation into Benavides Quintana’s death and to publicize the results of the investigation. During the investigation, ICE must halt all incoming transfers into the Otero County Processing Center and work to quickly release people detained in the facility so they can seek appropriate care. We further demand that ICE ensure that all detained individuals at the Otero County Processing Center have immediate access to high-quality mental health support services. 

The Otero County Processing Center has a long history of abusive mistreatment of people held there. The facility is owned by Otero County and operated by Management & Training Corporation. Last month, the ACLU of New Mexico and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center jointly submitted a civil rights complaint on behalf of a group of Venezuelans who were subjected to retaliatory solitary confinement at the facility. 

The following statement can be attributed to Rebecca Sheff, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of New Mexico: 

“The heartbreaking death of Jhon Javier Benavides Quintana comes after years of evidence that Otero County, MTC and ICE are unwilling and unable to detain asylum seekers and long-time immigrant residents in a safe and humane way. It’s imperative that Benavides Quintana’s family and the community have a fair and honest explanation of what led to his death and that actions are taken to ensure no one dies in ICE custody in New Mexico or anywhere else again.”