Tag: California

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Groups urge California leaders to act as virus again sweeps though immigration detention facilities

Advocates are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom “to issue a public health order that would provide detainees with N95 masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, adequate and timely medical care, medications, and COVID-19 tests,” The Fresno Bee reports. Copied in the letter are state Attorney General Rob Bonta and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomás Aragón.

The organizations note that while state law requires private detention facilities to abide by all state public orders, they also “have yet to see public health orders meaningfully enforced in these facilities,” including one order directing facility workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. “Despite outreach to appropriate state authorities, we have yet to receive a response from the state on the applicability of this public health order to immigrant detention facilities.”

Organizations further note that while they’re also aware that the California Justice Department is using its authority to inspect some of these facilities, they’ve heard of reports of individuals who say they were blocked from speaking to state officials. “The denial of access appears to have been intentional, and undermines the ability of individuals inside to share their detention experiences,” groups said.

Detention facilities are reportedly blocking detained immigrants because there’s a lot to hide. Just last month, a group of immigrants detained at the Management & Training Corporation-operated (MTC) Imperial Regional Detention Facility said in a civil rights complaint that they’ve suffered from difficulty breathing, headaches, and gastrointestinal pain due to hazardous air, dust, mold, and drinking water contamination. 

None of this even touches on the pandemic risks immigrants there and in facilities elsewhere have also faced. “What is more, detained migrants, including some complainants, say they have witnessed in the last two weeks how at least one MTC employee was ordered to stay at work despite looking visibly sick,” the complaint continued

The vast majority of immigrants in federal custody, 70%, are detained in private facilities operated by the likes of MTC, CoreCivic, and GEO Group. Quite tellingly, The Fresno Bee reported that a spokesperson for a trade alliance representing these private prison profiteers slammed the letter as “yet another attempt to push the ‘Abolish ICE’ movement.” There it is folks: They only give a shit about their profits. 

“Immigrants remain an essential part of our state, and millions of California residents are affected by the issue of immigration and detention as well as the ongoing pandemic,” California Collaborative for Immigrant legal director Justice Lisa Knox said, according to The Fresno Bee. Knox said that as advocates remain committed to safely releasing immigrants—which ICE has every ability to do—they will continue advocating for “the health and safety of those who are forced to remain detained.”

RELATED: ‘Requests have been simply ignored’: ACLU sues ICE for refusing to boost detained immigrants

RELATED: DHS medical experts again sound alarm about risky ICE detention, urge access to boosters

RELATED: ‘Clear and utter disregard’: Immigrants file complaint over hazardous conditions at private facility

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