(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security seeking information on its plan for preventing and responding to a potential outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) migrant detention facilities and in the broader immigrant community.
“DHS detention facilities may be especially vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus because of the Administration’s excessive use of detention,” Maloney and Raskin wrote. “This Administration’s immigration policies have grown the daily detainee population by more than 40%, resulting in severe overcrowding at detention facilities. Overcrowding creates dangerous conditions that increase the likelihood that disease will spread and make it more difficult to effectively quarantine contagious detainees.”
During a prior quarantine for a mumps outbreak at an ICE facility, hundreds of detainees reportedly were placed on lockdown and deprived of access to their lawyers even though their immigration court cases were not stayed. At least one quarantined detainee was ordered deported after facing an immigration judge without access to counsel.
On December 23, 2019, the Committee requested documents about the Department’s handling of the flu in CBP facilities, but the Department has not complied.
Chairs Maloney and Raskin requested DHS provide information and documents related to this request by March 18, 2020.
Click here to read today’s letter.