November 11, 2019

Asylum-Seeker in ICE Custody Removed from Life-Support without Family's Permission

Nebane Abienwi, who fled Cameroon this summer to seek asylum in the United States, was declared dead after hospital staff at an ICE detention center removed life-support. An ICE report states that Abienwi suffered brain damage after falling from a top bunk in his cell. Abienwi’s family communicated with ICE that they would like the ventilator to stay on until a family member could arrive, but their request was not respected.

“We did not approve that,” Abienwi’s brother told USA Today. “One hundred percent, we did not... The family spoke and said, ‘We believe in miracles. It has happened to other families, why not ours?’ I made clear that he should remain like that and the family would decide if we want to take him off that machine or not.”

Abienwi's brother is struggling to cut through red tape preventing him from seeing his brother before his casket is sealed, and doesn't know how to transport his brother's body home. In the meantime, he has borrowed money to pay for expenses and is having Abienwi's body kept at a California funeral home.

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