Activists in South Texas have requested the release of hundreds of people under the custody of ICE.
After 6 cases of COVID-19 were registered in detention centers throughout the U.S., and a case in Texas where an ICE agent contracted the virus, immigration advocates sent out a letter to the federal agency demanding they prevent the potential spread of coronavirus in their facilities.
“They literally do not even have soap for them in these facilities so it’s very unlikely that if someone was infected that they could contain an outbreak. There are some things that they can start doing immediately. They can start releasing those that are more at risk.”
In the document, activists claim that no health precautions have been taken, adding that recommendations issued by medical professionals have been ignored.
Jennifer Harbury, an immigration attorney, says she visits the Port Isabel Detention Center frequently. She claims some detainees have participated in hunger strikes to call attention to their current situation.
“I can tell you that people started a hunger strike: that was their level of desperation. I heard that there are very serious concerns about hospital retaliation and intimidation.”
We contacted ICE to obtain a statement on their behalf. Representatives referred us to their online website which indicates that their centers implement safety measures like making visitors use protective equipment such as gloves and N-95 face masks, or isolating people that show symptoms like fever and difficulty breathing.
Activists say they will continue to demand adequate safety measures from these centers.