Inside ICE Detention During the …

First, an entire dorm of immigrant detainees at the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center was locked down after one of them showed symptoms of COVID-19. But the guards never explained what was happening, and they routinely walked into the dorms without wearing gloves or other protective gear. Eventually, several dorms in the complex were locked down.

“I think that if it hit here, a lot of people with underlying situations like me — we won’t make it,” said a detainee with chronic respiratory and heart problems.

At ICE facilities across the country, there’s a sense of panic or desperation as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. As of April 1, there were 11 confirmed cases among immigrant detainees and staff at ICE detention facilities.

Thousands of medical and legal professionals have asked ICE to release detainees en masse, beginning, at minimum, with those most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.

In some cases, ICE has released small groups of detainees, mostly in response to orders from federal courts. But the vast majority of the more than 35,000 people in ICE detention remain locked up in facilities that are indistinguishable from prisons.

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