Carlos Ernesto Escobar-Mejia, a detainee at Otay Mesa Detention Center, had become the first person in immigration custody nationwide to die from COVID-19. ICE confirmed his death on May 7, 2020. Per ICE, Mr. Escobar-Mejia, who was 57 years old and from El Salvador, was pronounced dead by medical professionals at the Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, California, where he had been hospitalized since April 24, after exhibiting COVID-19 related symptoms. A COVID-19 test administered to Mr. Escobar Mejia on April 24 had returned positive the same day. ICE notes that “the preliminary cause of death was listed as undetermined.”
Mr. Escobar-Mejia entered ICE custody on January 10, following his arrest by U. S. Border Patrol near Campo, California, and was transferred to ICE custody at Otay Mesa Detention Center due to pending removal proceedings. He was denied bond by an immigration judge on April 15. He had originally entered the United States in 1980.