The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has joined thousands of medical professionals and immigration rights groups in demanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, release all prisoners from immigration jails. At least four asylum seekers and five ICE agents have tested positive for COVID-19, raising fears for more than 37,000 immigrants jailed in crowded facilities across the U.S.
In Louisiana, The Intercept reports women jailed at the privately owned South Louisiana ICE Processing Center are terrified that they have been exposed to a person ill with the coronavirus. The women flashed handmade signs to a “video visitation” camera describing an Ecuadorian woman who worked in the kitchen who was given oxygen and carried away on a gurney after presenting symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, more than 80 immigrant prisoners at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, continued their hunger strike to protest conditions inside the privately owned facility, demanding their immediate release, reunification with their families and temporary humanitarian visas. On Tuesday, supporters surrounded the immigration jail in a caravan, honking car horns in support of the hunger strikers.
California plans to release 3,500 nonviolent prisoners on parole in the next 60 days to try to reduce prison overcrowding. Although California’s total prison population is about 122,000, this would still be the largest mass release of U.S. prisoners since the pandemic began.