Less than a year ago, Martin Vargas Arellano pleaded with a U.S. Immigration Court judge for humanitarian parole from the ICE Processing Center in Adelanto, saying his only wish was to “lead a quiet life and be at peace.”
Suffering from myriad ailments — diabetes, hypertension, hepatitis C, cellulitis and gout — the 55-year-old San Bernardino man was among the most medically vulnerable of detainees at the private immigration detention facility, which in April 2020 was concerned about a potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Vargas was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed that month by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California demanding the Adelanto detention center reduce its detainee population to meet federal social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vargas’ request, however, was never granted. Ordered to remain at the ICE-contracted detention facility, Vargas contracted COVID-19 in December and died March 8 due to complications from the deadly virus, according to court records.
In 1985, at age 19, Vargas was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor under 14. The victim, according to Hellerstein, was his stepsister, and the relationship was consensual.