Family members of an El Salvadoran man who died while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Enforcement officials Sunday are seeking answers from authorities about the circumstances surrounding his detainment and death.
According to ICE, Virginia State Police arrested Anibal Ramirez-Ramirez, 33, on Sept. 27 before turning him over to federal officials. Ramirez was detained at the Farmville Detention Center while going through removal proceedings until he was discovered unconscious in the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 1, according to an ICE press release. He was taken by ambulance to Southside Community Hospital in Farmville.
He was then taken by helicopter to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, where he was diagnosed with liver failure, according to ICE.
Daniel Ramirez and Danny Ramirez are father and son and the uncle and cousin of Anibal Ramirez, who was living with them at their Woodbridge home up until his death. They said they are “looking for answers” and asked Ricardo Juarez, of Mexicans Without Borders to help them.
Family members said they were told Ramirez was transported to the Prince William County adult detention center in Manassas sometime after his arrest in Haymarket.
According to Daniel Ramirez, authorities have not provided any information, including why his nephew was arrested and for what charges.
The family members said Monday that Ramirez had no known health problems and he was not taking any medication. Danny Ramirez recalled playing soccer and going fishing with his cousin without any trouble.
Daniel Ramirez said the last time he saw his nephew was when he left for work at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Daniel Ramirez found out from his nephew’s employer that his nephew had been arrested. He also said ICE authorities did not contact him about his nephew’s condition until Saturday, Oct. 1. Anibal Ramirez died the next day.
Daniel Ramirez was at his nephew’s hospital bedside when he died.
“He was in bad condition, he didn’t speak,” he said. “We need to know the truth, we are so sad and confused.”
ICE’s press release states that the family and the El Salvadoran consulate were notified of Ramirez's medical condition and that his family was with him at the hospital until he passed away on Oct. 2.
An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.
Ramirez leaves behind a wife and a young daughter in El Salvador. His family said he was in the United States to work.
Ramirez is the first detainee to pass away in ICE custody in fiscal year 2012.