Local organizations react to death of Stewart Detention Center detainee

Updated: Jul. 29, 2019 at 12:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - This week, a man from Mexico who was being held at the Stewart County Detention Center in Lumpkin, fell ill and was eventually taken to Piedmont Columbus Regional where he later died. Now, some members of the community are coming together to advocate for better treatment of immigrants being detained.

Paz Amigos is a local non-profit organization that assists undocumented persons who have been released from the Stewart County Detention Center.

They say their goal is to get the undocumented persons to their families and friends safely. They help by providing food, clothing or even shelter to those in need.

Members say they were upset to hear the news of Arriago-Santoyo’s death.

“Everyone at Paz Amigos is deeply saddened by the death of Pedro Arriago-Santoyo. We are awaiting further details about the vigil where we will honor his life and mourn his death. We remain committed to our mission of helping reunite those who are released with their loved ones.”

Paz Amigos

Pedro Arriago-Santoya arrived at the Stewart Detention Center on July 10. Ten days later, he reportedly complained of abdominal pain. Four days after that, he was dead.

CoreCivic, who owns the detention center, released a statement saying “Arriago-Santoyo was transferred to a hospital the same day as the original complaint and no foul play is suspected.”

Arriago-Santoyo’s death has made many local organizations speak out on treatment of detainees and what needs to change.

“We are just standing against that and we just believe that it’s going in the wrong direction and so we just want to be an advocate for immigrants as well as for all people,” said Alfonza Seldon, President of NAACP for Phenix City.

Paz is also hoping to bring awareness to our community.

“We as residents of Columbus are uniquely positioned to play an active role in what’s going on at the border. Stewart Detention Center is 40 miles from Columbus it’s one of the largest detention centers in the country and Georgia is the 4th largest place where immigrants are detained in the entire country, so this is going on in our backyards,” said Monica Whatley of Paz Amigos.

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