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Call On Texas Governor Abbott to Urge ICE to Free Detained Immigrants & Asylum-Seekers


©Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“I fear me, my daughter, and my unborn fetus will die if we become sick in detention… I am most afraid because I cannot keep a sufficient distance from other people to keep myself safe from contracting the virus if they have it.” — A pregnant mother from Honduras, detained with her 4-year-old daughter at the South Texas Family Residential Center

Tens of thousands of immigrants and asylum-seekers are trapped in ICE detention facilities across the U.S., where they cannot be physically distant from each other, face an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in overcrowded conditions, and have limited access to medical care. These jails run the risk of becoming incubators for COVID-19.

Thousands of people, including hundreds of children and parents, are detained in the state of Texas.

At the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley and the Karnes County Residential Center, staff failed to provide families with COVID-19 education, hand sanitizer, or adequate protective or cleaning supplies, despite some detained immigrants having pre-existing health conditions and others showing symptoms of COVID-19. After transfers from out-of-state detention facilities, there was a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases at the Prairieland ICE facility.

Governor Greg Abbott can use his public health authority to pressure ICE to substantially reduce its immigration detention populations in facilities in the state, mitigate the otherwise inevitable spread of COVID-19, and protect immigrants and asylum-seekers.

While representing different organizational views and calls to action, AIUSA is joining together with Families Belong Together, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Innovation Law Lab, National Immigrant Justice Center, OCA — Asian Pacific American Advocates, Oxfam America, Physicians for Human Rights, RAICES — the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the Women's Refugee Commission in Texas. Make your voice heard!