ICE detainee tests positive for COVID-19

MGN Online

Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed on Wednesday that a detainee in Laredo, Texas, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The detainee tested for the illness in the Webb County Detention Center in Laredo, according to a list of positive coronavirus cases posted on ICE’s website.

An ICE Press Officer confirmed the detainee tested positive but did not provide information on the detainee’s condition, referring inquiries on protective measures taken inside the facility to the agency’s published COVID-19 guidance.

ICE’s website indicates the agency is providing detention center staff and suspected COVID-19 patients with personal protective equipment, though reports have indicated that detainees, unable to socially distance in crowded dormitories, have not been provided with masks.

The agency stated that in January 2020, “the DHS Workforce Safety and Health Division provided DHS components additional guidance to address assumed risks and interim workplace controls. This includes the use of N95 masks, available respirators, and additional personal protective equipment.”

Detainees inside the Port Isabel Detention Center who attempted to organize a hunger strike last month informed advocates who make regular visits to asylum seekers that concerns over protective equipment and cleaning supplies had not been addressed, though guidance updated in May now details which supplies staff provides.

Though ICE appears to be following CDC guidelines, detainees inside Port Isabel expressed concern last month that not all guards were wearing masks or gloves.

Recently updated guidance detailing the number of court-ordered releases related to coronavirus, which ICE specified are “non-discretionary”, stated that the releases do not necessarily undergo the same public safety, flight risk, and/or medical analysis” as the 900 discretionary releases ICE has made since March 1, according to the website.

A new tab marked “Judicial Releases” lists the criminal histories of certain detainees released by different field offices, as well as the number of court-ordered releases compared to the number of court-ordered releases of individuals with criminal charges or convictions.

“ ICE is providing this information in this forum to ensure complete transparency. ICE has also provided this information to Congress,” the agency wrote.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com