The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project demands that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately release on parole any detainees in Arizona who are considered high risk for COVID-19, including those who are older than 60, pregnant, or who have underlying conditions such as a weakened immune system, or heart or lung disease.

Additionally, the Florence Project joins with other national advocates to call on ICE, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and private companies like CoreCivic that run for-profit immigration detention centers to set forth a comprehensive plan to protect the health and safety of the 7,000 detainees held in Arizona in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is space for over 55,000 people in immigration detention nationwide, and doctors report that detainees are particularly vulnerable to contagious diseases. Although immigration detainees are in civil, not criminal, custody, they are held in close contact inside prison-like facilities. Doctors have reported that a COVID-19 outbreak in these conditions is inevitable. Diseases like COVID-19 can spread easily and quickly throughout these facilities, where detainees, including our clients, report that they often lack access to the soap, water, and sanitizers necessary to prevent spread of the illness and where advocates have already reported that patients routinely report lack of adequate medical care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. To prevent the death and serious illness of thousands of people in its custody, ICE must follow the WHO’s guidance and protect vulnerable detainees, including those with pre-existing health conditions and other serious risk factors.