A 58-year-old Indian man died in custody after he was detained last week in Atlanta for allegedly not possessing the necessary immigration documents while entering the country. Atul Kumar Babubhai Patel was taken into the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who took him to Atlanta City Detention Center, where he died on Tuesday in a hospital.
Officials said the preliminary cause of his death was congestive heart failure. Patel arrived at the Atlanta airport on May 10 on a flight from Ecuador.
In a statement, the Immigration Department said the US Customs and Border Protection denied Patel’s entry into the country as he did not possess the necessary immigration documents. He was then transferred to the custody of ICE.
Patel received an initial medical screening at the Atlanta City Detention Center and was found to have high blood pressure and diabetes. On Saturday, a nurse checking Patel's blood sugar noticed he had a breathing problem following which he was shifted to a hospital where he passed away.
The immigration department said it is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is "undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of the incident, as it does in all such cases".
The agency has informed the Indian consular representatives who informed Patel's family about his death. The agency said that deaths in its custody are "exceedingly rare" and occur at a fraction of the rate of the US detained population as a whole.