Things That Matter

ICE Is Intentionally Overcrowding Detention Centers And The Results Are Dangerous And Preventable Illness Outbreaks

It’s been several months since initial reports of an outbreak of mumps in ICE detention centers.

Yet despite a potentially illegal quarantine of more than 2,000 migrants, ICE has failed to contain the spread of potentially life-threatening illnesses among its detention centers.

A new report shows a growing health crisis for migrants held by ICE and that the agency is failing to address the issue.

Credit: @qz / Twitter

The agency first told the public in early March that it had identified over the past year some 236 “confirmed or probable” cases of mumps in its detention centers across the country, compared to zero cases the previous year. ICE has not updated the public since then.

But new reports show that the disease has spread in recent months, affecting detention centers across multiple states.

Credit: @qz / Twitter

According to a report by Quartz, migrants from more than 30 facilities nationwide said they have been quarantined for mumps and, in some cases, chickenpox.  

In Texas, some 300 migrants have been diagnosed with mumps in the state’s federal immigration facilities since October 2018. Meanwhile, the disease has spread to ICE immigration facilities in at least 11 other US states.

In Arizona, where ICE holds about 3,000 migrants, the epidemic is so serious that local health officials have launched an official investigation into its spread.

Mumps is a viral disease that affects the salivary glands, causing painful swelling.

Credit: vivavax / Instagram

The disease spreads quickly and can have serious complications, but it’s not fatal and is easily prevented with a vaccine. But the rate at which it’s spreading through government-run detention centers shows how ill-prepared the government is in the event of a more serious health problem.

The news of mumps infections comes after eight children have died while in government custody because of health issues.

Credit: @Slate / Twitter

FACT: there were zero minor deaths for eight years until the deaths of eight children in the last eight months. Many are blaming the overcrowding and lack of access to healthcare for children.

Some took to Twitter to shut down false reporting trying to blame migrants for ‘bringing the disease.’

Credit: @Krhawkins5 / Twitter

Often times, diseases like mumps are opportunistic infections that proliferate in conditions like those at ICE detention centers which have thousands of migrants in close quarters without access to vaccines.

What’s perhaps even more troubling, are the widespread quarantines occurring in detention centers putting migrants on lockdown for weeks.

While under quarantine, migrants can’t meet with their lawyers and they can’t attend court proceedings, including bond or asylum hearings. This means migrants are being denied the rights US law guarantees asylum seekers.

All of this is happening to people who have never even committed a crime. According to Syracuse University, 60% of the migrants in ICE detention have never been convicted of a crime. Yet they’re being forcibly detained for weeks or months in a patchwork of privately-run facilities, local sheriff’s offices, and even federal detention prisons.

Migrants are living in over-crowded detention centers that essentially look, feel, and function like prison cells.

Credit: @MJMusicEars / Twitter

Severe overcrowding plagues detention centers all over the US, presenting a huge risk to migrants. At a facility in El Paso, some people were held in “standing room only” cells for weeks despite fderal policy that states people generally shouldn’t be held fore more than 72 hours.

Migrants are being forced to stand on toilets just to find air to breathe.

Credit: @Salandelux / Twitter

In a report by the New York Times, investigators found that migrants had limited access to showers and clean clothes. Some people were “wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks.”

Investigators found 155 people in a cell that was supposed to hold 35, and 41 people in a cell that was supposed to hold eight. Nine hundred people were being held at the center on one day in May — far exceeding its capacity of 125.

The severe overcrowding at these detention centers is causing an immense risk to their health and to the public.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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