COVID-19 Cases In ICE Detention Centers Outpaced Rest Of U.S.

Published: Saturday, October 31, 2020 - 3:08pm
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Research in the journal JAMA finds COVID-19 cases rose faster in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers this spring and summer than elsewhere in the U.S.

Testing increases alone did not explain the rise.

Rocío Castañeda Acosta is an advocacy attorney with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. The group sued La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy to release detainees with medical conditions that placed them at high risk of death from COVID-19.

"Many of the same things that we were alleging in the district court action back in April, May are still going on in June, July, August," she said.

The court ruled that detainment at La Palma, which in September reported nearly 400 COVID-19 cases, could violate the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment. 

The study period ended in August and began in April, shortly after ICE published its Pandemic Response Requirements. 

Acosta said her clients still report conditions conducive to coronavirus spread.

"We continue to hear the same things that we were hearing from before: inadequate medical checkups, the lack of hygiene products, the inability to social distance."

She supported the author's call for an independent evaluation of facilities' mitigation strategies.

"There needs to be a neutral, independent assessment that is not under DHS, is not under the Department of Justice, to go in there and find out what is truly happening."

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