For Immediate Release
El Paso, TX– On Thursday April, 30, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, Movement Mujeres, Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, Cosecha, Anti-Deportation Squad, and other El Paso community members and activists held a caravan car rally around the County Detention Facility, which incarcerates immigrants, and the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas where a lawsuit had been filed demanding the release of six detained women. This follows a previous caravan car rally on April 16, 2020, around the El Paso Service Processing Center (EPSPC) where over 40 people participated.
“Now more than ever, our community fears for the well-being of our loved ones currently detained at the El Paso Service Processing Center (EPSPC) amid the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Paola Fernandez of the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee. “Reports from detained family members indicate that ICE and facility guards have not been implementing the protocols needed to keep those in detention safe from contracting the deadly coronavirus. It wasn’t until the lawsuit was filed that ICE began to change its practices”
There are now 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the EPSPC and the Otero County Processing Center combined. This brings the nation-wide total number of confirmed cases to 449 within Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) facilities; cases have nearly doubled in only the last eight days. ICE’s track record of inhumane treatment towards migrants, coupled with the coronavirus’ rapid spread makes this an extremely urgent and dangerous situation.
“We demand that the El Paso ICE Regional Field Office take accountability for this outbreak and use discretion to immediately release all people in their custody, not only for the sake of those inside but also for the El Paso community at large,” said Esperanza Chairez of Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee.“Migrants are an especially vulnerable population while they are subject to a U.S. immigration system that is infamous for its fatally flawed medical care and abysmal conditions that only worsen in times of crisis. Congress must cut funding for ICE and CBP to better allocate dire resources to support our healthcare workers and expand testing and treatment in El Paso.”
ICE’s shameful record of medical negligence, poor sanitation, and demonstrated inability to respond to past infectious disease outbreaks is detailed in a Detention Watch Network report, Courting Catastrophe: How ICE is Gambling with Immigrant Lives Amid a Global Pandemic. “Just this last year a doctor associated with Physicians for Human Rights declared that the medical care at El Paso Service Processing Center was the worst she had seen in ten years of medical practice,” said Margaret Brown Vega of Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention. “During a global pandemic, ICE is simultaneously putting people at elevated risk for contracting COVID-19, while subjecting them to inadequate medical care.”
“ICE can and should release all people from detention immediately, not only those who have already tested positive from the virus. Such measures will protect the lives of those inside the detention centers, and the health of our community,” said Nora Gonzalez of Santa Fe Dreamers Project. “As deeply concerned El Paso community members, we cannot sit and watch while ICE continues to unnecessarily threaten migrant’s lives and our community’s health.”
We are a community of liberation activists who work in solidarity with detained and liberated migrants in El Paso, TX. We fight to end the militarization of the border and criminalization and mass incarceration of migrants. Together, we challenge the inhumanity of the U.S. immigrant detention system and its practices and policies, by working with those directly affected and raising awareness of abuses in our communities.