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There are currently over 35,000 immigrants in detention in the United States, and most of them are in centers under the control of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Even during non-pandemic times, several of these facilities have been singled out for denying adequate healthcare to detainees. As the spread of COVID-19 overwhelms some areas of the country, the situation that many immigrants in detention are facing has become an urgent concern. ICE has already started to report that some immigrants and employees have tested positive for the virus.

In this episode of Latino USA, we speak with Noah Lanard, a journalist with Mother Jones who has been following a developing story in several detention facilities in the American South, especially in Louisiana. Noah has been in touch with detainees inside these centers, and the situation that they describe is dire. With unsanitary conditions, overcrowded living spaces, and a lack of medical personnel, many detainees fear that they have become sitting ducks as the coronavirus closes in around them.

Some members of congress have also been vocal about this. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called on the federal government, the Department of Homeland Security and more specifically on ICE to release some of those in custody, starting with low-risk detainees, vulnerable immigrants, and migrant children. To hear more about these demands, we also speak with Joaquin Castro, Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Featured image is inside the Caroline Detention Facility in Bowling Green, Virginia. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

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2 thoughts on “Immigrants In ICE Detention Face The Threat Of COVID-19

  1. Hi Maria,
    I am a US citizen who currently lives in Argentina. I value your show tremendously. Your most recent on Immigrants in ICE detention made me livid. I composed the letter below. Can someone please tell me who best to direct it to? Thanks!

    “Dear Senators, Congressman, please heed the call” (Bob Dylan of course)
    Release all human beings who are held by ICE or their private contractors and the HHS immediately. (Unless they pose an immediate and demonstrable risk to the public)
    Failure to do so will result in your direct culpability in the deaths of these people. Don’t bother to speak any argument for the impossibility of this action. It is within ICE’s power to do so. Take an address, use an ankle bracelet if you must, but release them.
    This is a threat that has been predicted, reported on and litigated well in advance of an actual full outbreak. There is NO way that you can say you could not predict a terrible outcome. For those of you who claim to hold every life as precious, do you really mean every life? Or – do you feel confident enough to be the arbiter of who deserves to live and who deserves to die?
    After all, what could be the worst that happens? People who’s live are saved may become contributing members of the United States, working in essential (now that no one wants to go outside) jobs, pay taxes, and start business. I can live with that gamble.
    What say you?

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