July 16, 2020
COVID-19 has made a lot of situations worse. Maybe the last situation that anyone wants their friend or family member to be in is an ICE hold. ICE holds during COVID-19 have exacerbated an already bad situation.
For everything you need to know about ICE holds in the age of the coronavirus, keep reading.
The coronavirus has struck the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) just as badly as it has affected other segments of society.
ICE reported the first death of a detained immigrant on May. 6. In mid-May, 943 detainees had tested positive, accounting for one in 31 detainees. 44 of ICE's detention facilities' employees had tested positive by that time.
Just as there's a higher risk of disease transmission in prison systems, there's a higher risk in detention facilities as well. That's because like inmates, detainees find themselves in close quarters. What's more, detention facilities happen to be next to coronavirus hotbeds.
Some states have released non-violent prisoners to slow the spread of the virus within prisons and jails. Likewise, on March 18, ICE field offices had to look at the cases of detainees over 70 and pregnant detainees. On April 4, the order to review cases was extended to cases of anyone aged 60 or older, detained mothers who had given birth two weeks ago or sooner, and detainees with any chronic condition that affects their immunity.
Higher-level officials are required to review cases involving detainees who have been convicted of a crime or arrested.
Not only does releasing detainees protect vulnerable individuals, but it also stops crowding. ICE has tried to reduce detention facility populations to about 75 percent of the full capacity.
If a detainee falls ill with the virus, they're required to isolate. New detainees are recommended to quarantine for 14 days before joining the general population. Suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases are required to be housed separately.
ICE provides limitless access to hand-washing supplies. It also provides hand sanitizer wherever it's allowed.
Also, ICE now offers the influenza vaccine "where possible" to all staff and detainees. This marks a reverse-course of the prior policy.
Moving forward, the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General (DHS IG) should rigorously evaluate ICE's performance. Whether it will actually do so is another question entirely.
As of mid-May of this year, the DHS IG's office only released 31 reports. That's in stark contrast to the 147 reports it released in 2016. The office has also sometimes couched its findings in political terms.
In the time of a pandemic, it should now focus perhaps more than ever before on performing vigorous, apolitical oversight of ICE facilities. Doing so is in the best interest of medicine and human lives.
ICE has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. The novel coronavirus has only amplified that scrutiny of ICE holds during COVID-19, as two highly politically charged domains have collided.
Politics aside, if you have a friend or family member in an ICE hold, you surely want to get them out of the way of coronavirus' potential to spread in an ICE facility. To get your loved one(s) out of harm's way, contact Action Immigration Bonds & Insurance Services today.
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