By Hamed Aleaziz | BuzzFeed News
Department of Homeland Security officials have acknowledged that transfers of detainees between facilities holding immigrants for ICE had “contributed to outbreaks” of COVID-19 and that poor information sharing made tracking and preventing the spread of the virus more difficult, according to a draft report obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The document also acknowledges that the inability for adequate social distancing within the ICE detention centers had contributed to the spread of the disease.
The internal recognition of the risks posed by transfers of detainees between facilities — a regular occurrence before and during the pandemic — comes after months of warnings from medical experts, advocates, and politicians over the consequences of shuttling people across the country. The report also indicates that ICE’s inability to track health records in certain facilities led to difficulties in monitoring the spread of the disease in jails.
“As an attorney representing clients in detention facilities across Arizona, this news comes as no surprise. ICE ignored the advice of medical experts and created unnecessary health risks for detained foreign nationals, their own employees, and the judges, attorneys, physicians, and detention workers who are forced to operate out of these facilities as part of their job requirements. I hope that federal agencies can learn these mistakes and develop policies and practices that mitigate exposure to the COVID-19 virus that does not appear to be going away anytime soon.”– Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group Immigration Dept. Chair