COVID outbreak at facility for immigrant detainees escalates
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases that began in June at an immigrant detention facility in Tacoma, Wash., Has continued to worsen.
The Seattle Times has since reported 150 people, including seven guards and a federal health worker, have tested positive at the Northwest ICE Processing Center, according to an attorney monitoring court-ordered government notices regarding COVID-19 cases there. -low.
According to a document submitted to federal court by the US Attorney’s Office for Western Washington, the wave of the virus came as the federal government transferred nearly 1,100 immigrants to the Tacoma detention center in an effort to reduce the virus. overcrowding in detention centers on the southern border.
Aaron Korthuis of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said that, while the government has released about 570 inmates that they consider to be at high risk of contracting COVID-19, “the damage is done.”
Virtually everyone who contracted the virus tested positive shortly after arriving at the Tacoma facility, leading Korthuis and his legal rights organization to claim that the government is not taking adequate precautions during transfers.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represent detainees in a federal class action lawsuit over security protocols at the center, say government is not following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in his transfers and seeks a restraining order compelling compliance.
The government says in legal documents that its protocols “may not follow the ideal scenario” outlined by the CDC in its guidelines to correctional and detention facilities, but says it is responding to recommendations from the federal health agency.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement verbally screens detainees for symptoms of COVID-19 and takes temperatures before flights. But it typically does not test whether detainees are asymptomatic or do not report being exposed to someone with COVID-19, according to legal documents. Even a quick test, which takes around 15 minutes, would be impractical when transferring large numbers, the government argues.
The government and the GEO Group, the private company that operates the detention center under the supervision of the ICE, also claim to have taken numerous security measures. People are separated from the general population upon arrival until they are twice negative for COVID-19. And everyone held in the facility – the average population in July was 571 – can be vaccinated.