Violence and Racism at the Core of Migrant Deaths in West Texas

September 30, 2022
Last modified: 
September 30, 2022

WASHINGTON— On Thursday, the warden of a privately run detention facility in West Texas Center—which very recently held detained individuals for U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement—was arrested and charged with manslaughter for shooting two migrants, killing one, in Sierra Blanca, Texas about an hour away from El Paso – while they were getting water on the side of the road.

The murder came in the midst of an escalating national debate over how to respond to the number of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. southern border and the treatment of migrants in immigration detention.

The following statement is from Alex Miller, director of the American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign:

“The reports of the shooting of two migrants in the desert in Texas are heart-wrenching and a sad reminder of the arbitrary violence people of color routinely face in this country.

“While these events are horrifying at face value, they are a devastating consequence of the impunity that followed the stories out of the West Texas Detention Center. Despite serious allegations against Warden Michael Sheppard and other employees, Sheppard sat at the helm of the detention facility at the time of the shooting. Neither ICE nor the private prison company, LaSalle Corrections, took appropriate remedial action.

“Unfortunately, racism, violence, and inhumane conditions are not unique to this facility. We need to stop treating serious allegations as outliers and understand that these issues are endemic and acknowledge that immigration detention cannot be made over. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security must also ensure that the survivors of this tragedy are not subject to expulsion or deportation and are granted appropriate protections as victims of a crime or other humanitarian relief.”



For more information, contact:

Brianna Dimas at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7557.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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