Immigrant detainee with COVID-19 dies in ICE custody: ACLU

Immigrant detainee with COVID-19 dies in ICE custody: ACLU
© Getty

The ACLU on Wednesday reported the first confirmed death from COVID-19 at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in San Diego.

The ACLU said a migrant detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego died from the virus, and urged ICE to release more people from detention to prevent further fatalities. 

“This is a terrible tragedy, and it was entirely predictable and preventable. For months, public health experts and corrections officials have warned that detention centers would be Petri dishes for the spread of COVID-19 — and a death trap for thousands of people in civil detention,” ACLU deputy director of immigration policy Andrea Flores said in a statement

ADVERTISEMENT

“Unless ICE acts quickly to release far more people from detention, they will keep getting sick and many more will die," she added.

The detention center in San Diego has the most COVID-19 cases of any detention center with 123 confirmed cases from migrants at the center, according to ICE data last updated on April 25. 

According to the ACLU, there are nearly 200 confirmed cases at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. 

An ICE official was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill. 

The ACLU last month filed a class-action lawsuit against ICE and CoreCivic, the private contractor that runs the Otay Mesa Detention Center, demanding the number of people detained be dramatically reduced for safety amid the pandemic. 

Last week a judge ordered ICE and CoreCivic to begin releasing medically-vulnerable people in custody at the center. As of Monday, however, a government attorney told a federal judge during a hearing that just two of the 131 identified as vulnerable to the coronavirus had been released, The San Diego Tribune reported

The attorney said that 95 of those detainees had been recommended for release, and 72 of them would likely be let out this week, according to the Tribune.