To the dangers of keeping the undocumented in detention centers of Immigration and Customs Control (ICE) amid the pandemic of the coronavirus, activists and environmentalists are now warning about the risks of using an industrial disinfectant that is sometimes even sprayed on inmates every 30 minutes.
The complaints warn about the use in immigration detention centers of the HDQ chemical, a highly effective Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulated pesticide and disinfectant that has been used in the hospital industry, and that It must be applied following strict safety protocols due to the risks it implies for health.
However, in detention centers such as the one in Adelanto, California, activists say that these security measures are not being followed by the staff of GEO, the company that operates the place.
“They have been spraying this HDQ chemical every 15 to 30 minutes a day to prevent COVID”Kimberly Galindo, a member of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), who maintains communication with the detainees in Adelanto, assured this Thursday at a press conference.
The HDQ application would be taking place both day and night, warned Raúl García, director of healthy communities for the organization Earthjustice.
The environmentalist emphasizes that safety guidelines specifically stipulate that the chemical should only be used with protective equipment and that it should only be sprayed outdoors or in well-ventilated areas. “It should not be inhaled or ingested, and if it is the affected person should be immediately moved to an area with fresh air,” added Garcia.
According to the complaints of the activists, none of these security practices are being carried out in the Adelanto center, where the detainees have reported respiratory and vision problems, skin rashes, nausea and headaches after the constant applications of the product. .
In isolation without medical attention
Added to the health problems that the detainees are facing by the chemical HDQ, the fact that GEO guards would be retaliating against immigrants who need to seek medical attention for this reason, according to Galindo.
“If they go to a hospital, back they are put in solitary confinement for 14 days and we know that solitary confinement is not self-quarantine”, denounces the ICIJ activist
These would not be the only problems that detainees are facing in Adelanto, located northeast of Los Angeles, in the middle of the pandemic.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported this week that Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) officials prevented a “vast majority” of undocumented immigrants from accessing some 1,900 tests to detect the coronavirus that were sent to that facility in May.
“I can’t imagine how scary it must feel to be one of the hundreds of incarcerated immigrants who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms but are unable to access a test, even though ICE has over a thousand test kits available.”, said Ahilan Arulanantham, ACLU SoCal attorney.
According to ICE data, 12 infections have been reported in Advance until Thursday since the pandemic began, and two of those infected are still in isolation.
In a statement, Arulanantham reported that on Monday night the organization asked a court to order the officers in Advance to administer a test to each person presenting symptoms, and to suspend the transfer of people to this center for reasons other than those specified in the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Transfers that carry viruses
The ACLU is trying to prevent a repeat of the situation at the detention center in Farmville, Virginia, where a COVID-19 outbreak has infected nearly nine out of 10 detainees.
According to ICE, 339 total detainees at the facility tested positive for the new coronavirus and 259 are currently under observation or in isolation with the virus. The infections increased after the transfer of several detainees to the facilities.
The contagion forced the CDC to send a team of doctors, laboratory specialists and epidemiologists this week to conduct an evaluation of the ICE detention center, according to Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.
Meanwhile, a federal judge granted a court order Tuesday to prevent more detainees from being transferred to the facility in Virginia.
As of last Saturday, ICE had 21,118 immigrants in its custody, 4,462 of whom had tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the total, 1,078 are active cases and five detainees died after being infected, although the deaths do not stipulate COVID-19 as a cause of death.
Called to investigate
As the pandemic progresses in the country, more voices have joined in urging ICE to release undocumented immigrants to continue their processes in their homes.
The federal congressman Mark Takano He warned that prisons have been sources of spread of the coronavirus, for which he asserted that “a rational policy would be to minimize the number of people in these centers.”
The Democratic legislator stressed that immigrants detained by ICE face civil charges, that they are not violent crimes, and that they should be released on bail, as was done in the Government of Barack Obama (2009-2017).
“Many, many detainees can be released into the community safely, and they will appear at their hearings,” Takano said.