ICE’s refusal to release immigrants and CA’s failure to act puts the lives of immigrants at risk
Adelanto, CA – On Wednesday afternoon, the first known death in an Immigrant Detention Center was confirmed by authorities. This comes only a day after a 9th district court judge overruled a court order telling ICE to release at least 75% of its detainees in order to abide by Social Distrancing policies and ensure their health is protected. The judge had ordered ICE to lower its population by 200 people.
“After many warnings the inevitable just happened, the first known death of an immigrant inside a detention facility from COVID-19. Our hearts are broken and we send our prayers and thoughts to the family of Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, also known by his friends as “Netio.” Carlos died shy of turning 58 and is yet another victim of the ICE’s negligence & the failure of State Leaders to take action.
The death of Carlos, while the first may not be the last. According to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), San Diego Detention centers have the largest COVID-19 outbreak among any facility in the country with 202 cases, 132 under ICE custody. To leave people who are seeking asylum and refuge to face COVID-19 inside of detention facilities is a death sentence. Immigrants detained in Otay Mesa were leading a hunger strike, and currently women in Adelanto are refusing meals & refusing to engage in forced work assignments from GEO guards.
Our leaders cannot turn a blind eye to the dangers faced by immigrant held in captivity. The silence and refusal of State Leaders like Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Governor Newsom is not only deafening but disappointing. This is a moral imperative, it’s no time for politics. We have to save lives.
We call on California’s leadership and our federal representatives to ensure the protection of people in immigration detention, employees, and communities surrounding these facilities from the threat of COVID-19. We must stand firm in our call to release all immigrants from these centers.
ICIJ is prepared to welcome and support immigrants as they are released. We have dozens of volunteers ready to provide care-packages with basic necessities, Churches to provide temporary housing and other gracious volunteers that are willing to pay for hotel rooms so they have a place to go. It is time for ICE to place life before the corporate interests, to free them all it is not only morally righteous, it will save lives. ”
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