A federal judge in California has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, to establish rapid, on-site COVID-19 testing and to set up a dormitory for coronavirus-positive prisoners at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield. Thursday’s order follows a coronavirus outbreak that hospitalized two prisoners and infected at least seven others. The ruling cites disturbing emails between ICE officials and the GEO Group, the private prison company that runs Mesa Verde. In one email, a clinical operations specialist at a healthcare company that provides services to ICE says, “Testing all detainees will potentially cause the same housing issue we had last week but on a larger scale. Completing the testing is not the issue it is just what we will need to do with the results once they are received.” Over 4,100 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 at ICE prisons across the United States.
In more immigration news, two men in the custody of ICE died Wednesday, making this fiscal year the deadliest for immigrants in ICE custody since 2006. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is dramatically increasing fees for dozens of immigration and work visa applications. This includes a more than 80% increase on naturalization applications, which will now cost over $1,000. There will also be an unprecedented $50 fee for asylum applications. The new fees go into effect in October.