In 2019, we wrote about the human rights concerns surrounding ICE facilities at the border. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions at these detention facilities have only gotten worse. Keep reading for more information.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, voiced her concerns over the mistreatment of immigrants in ICE detention facilities. She said she was:
“deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions.”
Unfortunately, these issues have only gotten worse over time. Since 2019, there have been allegations of forced sterilization of female detainees, deaths due to poor sanitation, and a host of other alarming incidents. Now, these facilities are a breeding ground for disease, particularly the coronavirus.
COVID-19 and ICE
Hundreds of ICE detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 between May 24-28. Hundreds more have tested positive throughout the pandemic, rivaling the number of cases among prisoners.
Much of the blame has been on the immigrants themselves for bringing the virus to these facilities, but many advocates argue that ICE’s lack of procedure and care for detainees is the more likely culprit. The ACLU claims that ICE has not developed a robust vaccination system like the Bureau of Prisons which is why there are far more cases among detainees.
What Is the Government Doing About It?
The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the issue, but it’s unclear how they plan on vaccinating detainees. ICE officials claim that they requested access to vaccines from the previous administration and never received them.
Now, ICE detention centers and agents are being held responsible for the continued spread of the coronavirus among immigrants. Overcrowding and a lack of healthcare have certainly contributed to the rise in positive cases.
DHS Secretary Mayorkas says that he is concerned about the overuse of detention and hopes to pursue alternatives to incarceration in the future. However, until these alternatives are put into place, and immigrants receive the healthcare they desperately need, ICE detention centers will continue to endanger detainees.
Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. will continue to follow this story as it develops.