When the COVID-19 virus shifted from an epidemic to a pandemic, measures were put into place to help prevent the virus from spreading. While many states began ordering nonessential businesses to close and issued stay-at-home orders, NBC News says doctors and attorneys expressed to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the importance of releasing detainees in detention centers to help stop the spread of the disease. In fact, some even went as far as filing lawsuits against the agency to force releases.
While the source cites that ICE initially released 900 detainees voluntarily who were considered to be medically vulnerable followed by a few hundred more, that wasn’t enough to keep the attention away. In recent news, ICE is being accused of transferring detainees from one facility to the next which advocates and federal judges overseeing the lawsuits say is “threatening immigrants’ lives and contributing to the virus’ spread.”
COVID-19 Cases Spike in Immigration Detention Centers in Texas After Detainees are Transferred
About a week after immigrants arrived at the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, Texas, they began to show COVID-19 symptoms after they had been held in dorms with other recent transfers. Three detainees ended up testing positive for COVID-19 followed by 20 more, says the source. Now, at least 41 immigrants being held at Rolling Plains have contracted the potentially deadly virus.
In Pearsall, Texas, which is located south of Rolling Plains, the source says, “transfers turned another detention center into a virus hotspot.” In early April, there was just one confirmed case of COVID-19. However, two detainees who were moved into Pearsall’s South Texas ICE Processing Facility tested positive. Now, there are at least 32 immigrants who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 being held in the facility.
ICE is being accused of shuffling immigrants from California to Florida, Florida to New Mexico, Arizona to Washington State, and from Pennsylvania to Texas.
While ICE says that some transfers were done to curb the spread of the virus, they have actually led to outbreaks in facilities in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, cites NBC News. While it isn’t clear just how many immigrants have been moved since the outbreak occurred, NBC News says that it did identify at least 80 since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
If a loved one of yours is currently in ICE custody, it’s time you contact the Texas immigration attorneys at the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen. If there is anything that can be done to get your loved one released, the Texas immigration lawyers at the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen will do it.
310 South St. Mary’s Street, Suite 2100
San Antonio, Texas 78205