Across the United States right now, there are over 32,000 people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE.
Tucked away in remote corners of the country, ICE’s detention centers have long had issues with providing adequate medical care, and have been proven breeding grounds for disease. Just last year, an outbreak of mumps overtook dozens of ICE facilities, infecting nearly 900 detainees.
For the tens of thousands of people currently detained by ICE during the coronavirus pandemic, for whom social distancing is impossible, there is widespread fear that an even more pervasive and deadly outbreak could occur.
Carceral facilities — prisons, jails — like ICE detention centers, have much higher infection rates than the general public. On Riker’s Island, for example, the rate of infection is seven times that of New York City.
As of Thursday, there have been 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus among ICE detainees, and 25 cases among ICE employees at detention centers, according to ICE’s own website.
The Intercept's Ryan Devereaux has been speaking directly to detainees inside of an ICE facility in Etowah County, Alabama. ICE maintains that it is following appropriate CDC protocols. But as Ryan recently reported in his story “'Burials Are Cheaper Than Deportations': Virus Unleashes Terror in a Troubled Ice Detention Center,” detainees in this facility, overwhelmed by their own precarious conditions in the face of the coronavirus threat, were forced to radically take matters into their own hands to ensure their own safety.