For Immediate Release
AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert
El Paso, TX — Mothers from the El Paso/Juarez border region will be sending cards, notes and letters to loved ones inside ICE detention centers this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10.
Mothers are banding together this Mother’s Day to ask ICE to release their loved ones imprisoned in detention centers amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. They say their loved ones should be released on humanitarian parole, to await their court dates at home instead of risking contracting the illness while packed into crowded detention centers.
“We want them to know they’re not alone,” said a mother of two, under the pseudonym Monica, whose husband is currently detained by ICE. “It’s very lonely celebrating Mother’s Day without my husband because we formed our own family. It’s hard with the boys not having a male figure to show how you celebrate Mother’s Day and seeing their dad celebrate their mother.”
A hashtag #NoTieneMadre, a Mexican saying meaning to not give a f*** or to show no scruples in harming someone, is trending as mothers and immigration rights activists point out the inhumane treatment of people detained by ICE.
There are now 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the El Paso Service Processing Centerand the Otero County Processing Center combined, and one confirmed COVID-19 related death. Nationally there are 753 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among persons detained by ICE; cases nearly doubled in the last eight days. ICE’s track record of inhumane treatment towards migrants, and chronic medical neglect coupled with COVID-19’s rapid spread makes this an extremely urgent and dangerous situation. Internal ICE reviews of two immigrant deaths stoke fears about COVID-19 care.
ICE’s shameful record of medical negligence, poor sanitation, and demonstrated inability to respond to past infectious disease outbreaks is detailed in a March 9, 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 (AVID). “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.”