A Cameroonian Migrant Was Taken Off Life Support While In ICE Custody Despite Family Wishes

"We believe in miracles. It has happened to other families, why not ours?" the family asked.

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| November 06 2019,

8:15 pm

A migrant seeking asylum, held at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in San Diego, died after he was removed from life support — against his family's wishes.

Officials say Nebane Abienwi, 37, from Cameroon, suffered a "medical emergency" on October 1, yet his body remains in America one month later. Abienwi's younger brother, Akongnwi, told USA Today he requested a U.S. visa to identify Abienwi's body and return it to Cameroon but has been denied twice. 

"The family spoke and said, 'We believe in miracles. It has happened to other families, why not ours?'" Akongnwi said to USA Today. "I made clear he should remain like that and the family would decide if we want to take him off that machine or not."

report released by ICE detailed the sequence of events regarding the medical history which began on September 11 when Abienwi was evaluated for a skin rash. By September 26, Abienwi was diagnosed with acute severe bleeding within the brain and spent the next few days with declining neurological examinations before being declared brain dead, and removed from life support on October 1.

"We lost our parents when I was young, and Neba [Abienwi] has been taking care of us since then," Akongnwi said. "Every day, I receive 30 phone calls from family members asking what's happening, and I don't know. I don't even know if I'm OK. I don't know if something is wrong with me. I don't know if I'm dead or still living."