“Powder kegs”: Calls grow for ICE to release immigrants to avoid coronavirus outbreak

Originally published by CBS News on 21/03/2020


ICE has faced intensifying pressure to release immigrants with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, detainees over the age of 60 and those seeking humanitarian protections who don’t pose a threat to public safety.  The agency announced it would stop arresting most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who don’t pose a threat to the public during the pandemic. The move is a significant shift in enforcement priorities, but doesn’t address the growing calls for ICE to release many immigrants. An asylum seeker currently detained in northeastern Louisiana has said he and other immigrants at the detention center have not received any instructions related to the pandemic. Access to hand soap is very limited and the sanitary conditions are subpar, he added.In response to the pandemic, ICE has implemented new internal procedures, including: – plans to screen new detainees and isolate those with symptoms related to COVID-19. – the suspension of  visits by family members and friends at detention centers.An ICE spokesperson declined to answer directly when asked about calls to release immigrants, saying only that “no announcements have been made regarding the current detainee population.”

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