Newsletter: The Staggering Number of Preventable Deaths in ICE Detention

As the Supreme Court unleashes several concerning decisions this week, Donald Trump used the national debate stage to repeat false claims about the 2020 election and said he would accept the results this November if the election is “fair and legal” — once again sowing the seeds of chaos and distrust.

Deaths in ICE Custody
The vast majority of recent deaths in immigration detention — a staggering 95 percent — could have been prevented had Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided clinically appropriate medical care. That’s according to a new report released by American Oversight, the ACLU, and Physicians for Human Rights released this week.

The report used 14,500 pages of documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, state public record requests, and civil litigation, and provides a comprehensive examination of the deaths of 52 people whom ICE reported to have died in its custody between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2021.

  • The report, which has drawn significant media attention, calls on the government to end its reliance on the dehumanizing, abusive, and deadly immigration detention machine, and offers guidance to protect the health, rights, and dignity of people detained in ICE detention.

In fighting for the release of the records from ICE, American Oversight encountered significant delays and obstruction. Our litigation resulted in a key win for transparency and immigration justice, with a federal court ordering ICE to redo its search for requested documents and rejecting the agency’s justifications for withholding certain records.

  • The report also included recommendations for ICE to make significant improvements to its transparency practices under FOIA.
  • “Today’s report underscores the importance of transparency,” said Chioma Chukwu, interim executive director of American Oversight. “Until now, the full extent of ICE’s systemic failures has remained shrouded in secrecy — a direct result of its unlawful delays and unjustified withholdings in releasing public records.”
  • “The documents underpinning this report can’t undo the harm caused by ICE’s failures, but they can provide something invaluable: accountability,” she continued. “That’s why American Oversight fought to shine a light on these records — to provide answers to deserving loved ones and to ensure those responsible for preventable tragedies are made to answer.”

On the Records

Virginia Review of African American History Course
Records obtained by American Oversight and reported on by the Washington Post show that the Virginia Department of Education proposed dozens of revisions to an African American history course curriculum in its review to determine whether it complies with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s controversial 2022 executive order banning the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts” in public schools.

  • The proposed changes, which have not been implemented, would significantly sanitize the state’s history of racism against Black people. 
  • The suggested revisions included recommendations to remove references to racism and white supremacy and lessons on implicit bias and equity, the documents revealed. In several learning objectives, state officials suggested replacing terms likeracist” and “white supremacist” with “discriminatory practices.”

In 2023, Youngkin cited his executive order in calling for a review of the Advanced Placement African American Studies course, weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected it in his state. After a six-month investigation, Virginia’s education department ruled that the AP course did not violate Youngkin’s executive order.

  • Learn more about the suggested changes here, and read about our previous investigation into Florida’s review of the AP course, which revealed internal objections to lessons about slavery or racial disparities that reviewers claimed were “one-sided” or lacking in “opposing viewpoints.”


We will not publish a newsletter next week, in observance of the July Fourth holiday. Catch up with our latest news on, and we’ll be back in your inboxes on Friday, July 12.

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Sen. Jake Hoffman files motion to have indictment tossed in fake electors case (Arizona Republic)
  • Freedom Caucus chair casts doubt on the validity of Virginia’s Fifth District primary (Staunton News Leader)
  • Fixing Texas’ ballot secrecy problems won’t be easy, experts say (Votebeat)
  • Trump allies test a new strategy for blocking election results (Washington Post)
  • Racist slurs and death threats: The dangerous life of a Georgia elections official (Stateline)
Voting Rights
  • California county that tried to hand-count ballots picks novice to replace retiring elections chief (Associated Press)
  • In Shasta County, Calif., fights over elections have left wounds that just won’t heal (Votebeat)
  • House advances bill requiring State Board of Elections to work with “election integrity” groups (North Carolina Newsline)
  • Idaho legislators approve ballot info for noncitizen voting constitutional amendment (Idaho Capital Sun)
  • Tennessee election officials asking more than 14,000 voters to prove citizenship (Associated Press)
  • Alabama’s voter records must be disclosed, but digital format not required, court says (Alabama Reflector)
National News
  • Supreme Court allows White House to press social media companies to remove disinformation (CNN)
  • Supreme Court delivers blow to power of federal agencies, overturning 40-year-old precedent (NBC News
  • Supreme Court blocks Biden plan on air pollution (New York Times)
In the States
  • Oklahoma’s state superintendent requires public schools to teach the bible (New York Times)
  • California judge awards over $1 million to 2 U.S. citizen children held in CBP custody (NBC News)
  • How the NYPD quietly shuts down discipline cases against officers (New York Times)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Supreme Court will take up state bans on gender-affirming care for minors (Associated Press)
  • Hearing over Missouri’s ban on gender-affirming care focuses on withheld documents (Missouri Independent)
  • Ohio House passes transgender bathroom and locker room ban for K-12 schools and colleges (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Biden pardons veterans convicted of having gay sex (New York Times)
  • Texas Republicans put trans, nonbinary teachers in the crosshairs (Texas Observer)
  • Judge strikes down Montana law defining sex as only male or female for procedural reasons (Associated Press)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Abortion debate shifts as election nears: ‘Now it’s about pregnancy’ (New York Times)
  • Michigan judge suspends abortion law mandating 24-hour wait (Bridge Michigan)
  • Iowa’s Supreme Court tells lower court to let strict abortion law go into effect (Associated Press)
  • Justices seem set to allow emergency abortions in Idaho for now, a prematurely posted opinion says (Associated Press)
  • Texas adopts guidance for how doctors should interpret abortion ban (Texas Tribune)
  • In Texas, the fight over abortion has gotten hyperlocal (Slate)
Civil Rights
  • Travis County Attorney drops charges against 79 more UT-Austin protesters (Texas Tribune)
  • Environmental StoneWorks workers allege widespread wage theft, racial discrimination (News from the States)
  • Supreme Court allows cities to enforce bans on homeless people sleeping outside (Associated Press)
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • Senate symbolically lets the sunshine in as FOIA reform bills advance to the House (Michigan Advance)
  • Michigan Senate votes to subject lawmakers, governor to open records law (Detroit News)
Trump Accountability
  • Conservative-backed group is creating a list of federal workers it suspects could resist Trump plans (Associated Press)
  • As Trump’s documents case crawls along, questions about judge abound (Wall Street Journal)
  • Trump says he’ll accept 2024 results if they’re ‘fair and legal’ while airing false 2020 fraud claims (NBC News)
  • Millions will watch the presidential debate. Prosecutors in Trump’s Jan. 6 case may be tuning in, too (ABC News)