Miami, Dec 31 (EFE News) .- Half a thousand immigrants held in detention centers throughout the country will spend New Year’s Eve with the concern of having tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to the latest figures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), a total of 497 inmates are confirmed cases currently in isolation or monitoring.
This number is part of the 8,415 confirmed cases in detention centers managed by ICE since the pandemic broke out earlier this year.
Of these, eight immigrants did not overcome the effects caused by the virus and died as a result of complications derived from covid-19 while in ICE custody.
These figures have provoked harsh criticism in recent months from Democratic congressmen and immigrant rights groups, who have repeatedly called for the release of a good part, if not all, of the inmates.
The detention centers with the highest number of immigrants with confirmed cases currently in isolation or follow-up are York County Prison and Clinton County Correctional Facility, both in Pennsylvania, with 76 and 38 immigrants in that situation, respectively.
Immigration lawyer Holly Cooper regretted this Thursday in a message on Twitter that there are dozens of inmates in this situation, which, in her opinion, is a “preventable tragedy.”
“The judges and ICE have the power to release them all,” said the attorney.
Since the start of the pandemic, ICE has released some inmates who it considered to be part of risk groups, while it was forced to let many others go by court orders.
If ICE’s daily inmate population in fiscal year 2019 was 50,165 on average, it is currently 15,943, after those releases and the deportation of thousands of immigrants in recent months, as well as fewer arrests.
Despite the criticism, ICE has defended the health security protocols followed in its centers and ensures that as of December 25, it had carried out 78,536 coronavirus tests, although the measures seem insufficient for many inmates, who have publicly denounced that they are not being tested. maintains the recommended safety distance, among other claims.
This situation has led many immigrants to go on hunger strikes in recent months to denounce their situation, such as the one currently taking place in the Bergen detention centers and the Essex County Jail, both in the state of New Jersey, activists reported.