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Congresswoman Escobar Leads Letter Asking ICE to Make Immediate Changes to Halt the Spread of COVID-19 and Protect All Detainees and Employees

El Paso, May 5, 2020
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar led 17 of her colleagues in sending a letter asking ICE to immediately change its protocols and procedures to halt the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease and protect all detainees and employees in El Paso and across the country, and urging the OIG to closely examine these matters.
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX) led 17 of her colleagues in sending a letter asking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately change its protocols and procedures to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) disease and protect all detainees and employees in El Paso and across the country, and urging the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to closely examine these matters.

The letter, which was sent to ICE Acting Director Matthew T. Albence and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, calls for the prompt release of non-violent ICE detainees, observation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and halt of transfers and deportations of detainees for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“ICE must come up with a plan to protect all detainees in its care and all employees working in detention centers around the nation, this includes testing everyone in its care to assess the extent of the outbreak, halting transfers of migrants until ICE determines that they are negative for COVID-19, and releasing non-violent individuals – a request that has been repeatedly made throughout the pandemic from various Members of Congress. This testing and releases must be expedited in order to curb the further spread of COVID-19, especially within detention centers that have any COVID-19 positive detainees,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Citing alarming news reports of deportation flights to Guatemala with deportees who later tested positive for COVID-19, the lawmakers close the letter urging ICE to “halt deportation flights to be sure that the U.S. is not spreading the disease and endangering lives around the world as well.” 

Joining Congresswoman Escobar are Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Donna E. Shalala (FL-27), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), David Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Filemon Vela (TX-34), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23).

The full text of the letter can be read here.

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