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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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not a contentious topic among Americans. The program offers young adults who entered the U.S. as children relief from deportation and a chance to live out of the shadows. Now that it has been reinstated, Google wants to help some people achieve the dream of being a DACA recipient.

Google is pledging a quarter of a million dollars to help people apply for DACA.

The Trump administration did everything in their power to end DACA. The constant uncertainty has left hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. The war waged against Dreamers by the Trump administration came to a temporary end when a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was illegally installed as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. It invalidated a member from Wolf stating that no new DACA applications would be approved.

Kent Walker, the SVP of Global Affairs, laid out the case for DACA in an essay.

Walker discusses the uncertainty the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently face after the tumultuous time for the program. He also touches on the economic hardships that has befallen so many because of the pandemic. With so many people out of work, some Dreamers do not have the money to apply or renew their DACA due to a lack of financial resources. For that reason, Google is getting involved.

“We want to do our part, so Google.org is making a $250,000 grant to United We Dream to cover the DACA application fees of over 500 Dreamers,” writes Walker. “This grant builds on over $35 million in support that Google.org and Google employees have contributed over the years to support immigrants and refugees worldwide, including more than $1 million from Googlers and Google.org specifically supporting DACA and domestic immigration efforts through employee giving campaigns led by HOLA (Google’s Latino Employee Resource Group).”

People are celebrating Google for their decision but are calling on Congress to do more.

Congress will ultimately have to decide on what to do for the Dreamers. There has been growing pressure from both sides of the aisle calling on Congress to work towards granting them citizenship. DACA is a risk of being dismantled at any moment. It is up to Congress to come through and deliver a bill to fix the issue once and for all.

“We know this is only a temporary solution. We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers, but also delivers other much-needed reforms,” writes Walker. “We will support efforts by the new Congress and incoming Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform that improves employment-based visa programs that enhance American competitiveness, gives greater assurance to immigrant workers and employers, and promotes better and more humane immigration processing and border security practices.”

READ: New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

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During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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