FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Friday, April 3, 2020
El Paso, TX– Now more than ever, members of our beloved community fear for the well-being of their loved ones currently detained at the El Paso Service Processing Center in East El Paso, Texas, amid the global pandemic of COVID-19. Reports from detained family members indicate that ICE and facility guards are not implementing the protocols needed to keep those in detention safe from contracting the deadly coronavirus.
Several individuals incarcerated at the detention center used video visitation software to describe the lack of basic necessities like soap, hand sanitizer and the lack of the implementation of social distancing required to keep them safe. They have expressed extreme concern that their health is being compromised.
“To prevent the virus from spreading, we need to keep social distancing, wash our hands and cover our coughs, but this is impossible in detention centers,” says Gabriela Castaneda, Movement Mujeres Fellow.
During one of the videos, individuals can be heard asking for help and holding a sign that reads in Spanish, “Help please, we don’t want to die.”
“There are over 200,000 coronavirus cases in the United States right now, and we believe that not releasing these individuals creates the conditions that will only increase that number. We fear that these places will become deadly hot spots for coronavirus infections,” states Paola Fernandez, of DMSC.
Various organizations and advocates are joining the national virtual #FreeThemAll campaign to call for the release of everyone held in ICE detention.
We ask community members to give us a call if they have a loved one in a detention center and want to join us in the fight to #FreeThemAll. If your organization is interested in joining the campaign please contact Gabriela Castaneda at (915) 494-4213.
A group of people have been speaking out during this pandemic/crisis about the dangerously unhealthy conditions inside El Paso Service Processing Center. We are gravely concerned for the people detained at EPSPC. They cannot practice social distancing, are not being given the necessary supplies, such as soap, to protect themselves, and they have faced retaliation for speaking up about their concerns for their health and the health of those around them.
A person whose husband is detained in El Paso created a petition and stated, “In the borderland where we live there is already community spread. It is only a matter of time and pretty much inevitable that this virus will be introduced and spread into the center. The conditions are already poor even in their best circumstances. I know that ICE has the discretion to release people from custody and I feel like there is no better time than now. Those in detention who have families here need to be with them, especially in these dire times.”
ICE and EPSPC staff have a history of maintaining poor conditions inside detention. They continue to fail to improve conditions, actively hide information from those inside and the public, & retaliate against anyone who speaks out about their treatment inside. It’s time we demand every single person be freed from detention. #FreeThemAll
Here is the link to take action and sign the petition: https://bit.ly/3dTb1hA
Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) in the Chihuahuan Desert works to abolish immigration detention, while supporting those detained. Our volunteers are from Las Cruces, New Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and surrounding communities.
The Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC ) is a community of liberation activists who work in solidarity with detained and liberated migrants based in El Paso, TX, that fights to free the border from the criminalization and mass incarceration of migrants. Together we challenge the inhumanity of the U.S. migrant detention system, its practices, and policies, by holding a visible presence and raising awareness of abuses in our communities.