A Detention Watch Network report blames ICE for nearly a quarter-million coronavirus cases throughout the country.
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND Customs Enforcement’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a horrifying — and avoidable — calamity. By handing out masks late, forcing detained people into close quarters, refusing to release the medically vulnerable, not reporting infections, testing inadequately, frequently transferring detainees, and pressuring staff and guards to continue working despite compromised health, ICE’s handling of the pandemic has led to over 7,000 reported positive cases and at least 8 coronavirus-related deaths among detained people.
A new report from Detention Watch Network finds that the dire situation inside also led to wider consequences: When spread in the communities surrounding detention centers is included, ICE’s sprawling incarceration system added nearly a quarter million cases to the total U.S. caseload.
The DWN report, “Hotbeds of Infection,” released on Wednesday, lays bare how ICE’s abundant failures and dilatory mismanagement killed and infected people inside detention centers and significantly contributed to the spread of Covid-19 across the country. By August 1, almost 5.5 percent of total U.S. cases, according to the report, were attributable to spread from ICE detention centers. The report is yet another damning indication that ICE’s dereliction in protecting basic human rights, grievous medical neglect, and lack of transparency in how it detains and treats people in its system of over 200 detention centers is a massive public health threat — both to detainees and the greater U.S. population.