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Dan Deuterman
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Mother of Man who Died in Immigration Custody to File Wrongful Death Suit

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The mother of an HIV-positive man who died while in immigration custody plans to file a wrongful death suit against the United States government, according to news reports.

The mother alleges that immigration officials denied medical treatment to her son while he was in custody.

This immigration wrongful death case highlights a disturbing trend.

23-year-old Victor Arrelano, died while in custody at an immigration detention center in San Pedro, Calif. According to the Los Angeles Times, the case highlights an “inadequate, even dangerous, medical system for the nearly 30,000 undocumented immigrants in custody nationwide.”

Attorneys for Arrelano’s family say that while in custody, Arrelano’s condition deteriorated to the point that fellow detainees urged staff to provide medical care. Roman Silberfeld, the family’s attorney, said that 70 detainees signed a petition urging that Arrelano receive medical attention. When Arrelano’s condition became critical, he was transferred to a San Pedro hospital and died several days later, according to the Times.

Lorri Jean — chief executive of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, which provided treatment to Arrelano two years ago — said she has “no doubt” Arrelano died because he was “denied the medications that [he] needed to stay alive.” Jean said that she and her staff will discuss Arrelano’s death and their concerns about treatment at the detention center with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Times reports.

U.S. Immigration and health services officials defended the quality of medical care provided at dozens of immigration centers nationwide, but they would not discuss individual cases because of privacy concerns, the Times reports.