Inadequate medical care led to the untimely death in federal custody of an undocumented immigrant facing deportation, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of his two young children.
Roberto Aguilar Bautista was able to keep his Type 2 diabetes in check until he was arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February 2013, according to relatives and attorney James Segall-Gutierrez.
While held in downtown Los Angeles in the Metropolitan Detention Center, Bautista did not receive the proper medication or treatment, and his health quickly deteriorated, Segall-Gutierrez said.
Bautista suffered kidney damage, then a heart attack, and went blind. He was later transferred to other detention facilities, and was being held in Texas at the time of his March death at the age of 38, according to the allegations in the suit filed Friday in federal District Court.
A month before his death, Bautista wrote a letter from prison pleading for help, said Segall-Gutierrez, who provided NBC4 a copy translated from Spanish.
"I find myself in this new institution in Texas and they are not giving me proper medical attention for my health problems," Bautista's letter reads in part.
The defendants named in the suit include ICE, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and President Barack Obama. None have been served yet.
Obama "was responsible for assuring that the actions, conduct, policies, procedures, and customs of the...(other) defendants...complied with the Constitution of the United States," is the suit's explanation for his inclusion in the case.
Bautista was held by ICE for the initial two weeks before the US Marshals Service took custody and transferred him to the Metropolitan Detention Center, according to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the specifics of Bautista's case, but a spokesman said bureau policy calls for proper medical care of custodies with health problems.
Bautista came to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, and settled in Huntington Park, according to Maria Reynoso, his sister. She said he worked for a towing company and later as a car salesman.
Records reveal that Bautista was deported in 2005 after serving two years of a sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. A year later, while attempting to cross back into the US, he was detained at the border and returned to Mexico. Later he succeeded in reaching Huntington Park.
During the past eight years, Bautista met Nancy Luna, and they started a family. Their daughters, both born in the US and therefore US citizens, are now ages 6 and 4.
Bautista had no arrests during that time. What put him back on ICE's radar, spokesperson Kice said she did not know.
Family said Bautista had contacted immigration officials about attempting to legalize his residency status, and suspects suspects that may be what led to his arrest at his home.
However, legal residency would not be possible for a deported convict, Kice said. Two weeks after his arrest, the US Attorney filed a criminal charge.
Even those who have entered the United States illegally are entitled to the civil rights guaranteed under the US Constitution, Segal-Gutierrez said. The lawsuit also alleges that in failing to care of Bautista's health, US officials and agencies violated the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which in 1848 formalized relations between the USA and Mexico.