Vigil Held For Immigrant Detainee Who Died of COVID-19

Dozens of people came together to pay tribute to the 57-year-old Salvadoran who died on May 6 from complications of COVID-19

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Migrant rights activists gathered on Saturday to commemorate the life of the first immigrant detainee who died of COVID-19 this week.

Their message was clear: that the death of this immigrant not be left in vain.

Dozens of people came together to demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release other migrants who might be inside the Otay Mesa Detention Center with the virus.

Amid shouts, candles, roses and banners with the photograph of Carlos Escobar-Mejia, the outskirts of the Otay Mesa Detention Center lit up.

"We shouldn't be here, because Carlos and everybody else inside of this for-profit prison shouldn't be here," said Alex Mensing, project coordinator for "Pueblo Sin Fronteras".

Escobar-Mejia, 57, from El Salvador, was pronounced dead on May 6 at Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, where he had been hospitalized since April 24, ICE said in a release.

ICE confirmed this is the first COVID-19 related death while in their custody.

A moment of silence was held for Escobar-Mejia outside the detention center before people got in their cars and drove around the facility honking their car horns in the hopes that the detainees in there would listen to them.

NBC 7 spoke with a detainee inside who said he and others worry that Carlos's death won't be the last if the prison doesn't change its policies.

"All we want is the chance for us to be with our families as this situation gets settled," he said.

As of May 5, 140 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 at the detention facility. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to NBC 7, 66 of their inmates at the detention facility have also tested positive for COVID-19, making it a total of 206 individuals positive with the virus.

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