A group of Democrats in the House are urging the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to stop re-detaining migrants who were previously released due to concerns over the spread of COVID.
The Democrats in question penned a letter that stated ICE’s detention policies for several field offices have been “inconsistent” and have caused “great uncertainty” for migrants. The effort is being led by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, with the letter being addressed to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and current acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.
“Specifically, we urge you to refrain from re-detaining individuals previously released due to COVID-19 solely due to the improving pandemic conditions and to continue robust safety measures in ICE detention centers, including access to vaccines,” the Democrats said in the letter. “These steps are vital to fulfilling your obligations to protect the health and safety of people in ICE custody, ICE staff, and the families who live in the communities where ICE detention centers exist.”
As of May 31, 16,000 coronavirus cases were reported in ICE facilities, and nine have died from the virus, the letter said.
The rate of infection in the holding buildings “is 20 times greater than in the general public,” and migrants should be allowed to live “safely at home with their families,” the lawmakers added.
“These formerly detained people, however, continue to live with the constant fear of redetention by ICE,” the letter went on to say. “ICE’s position regarding the re-detention of people released due to COVID-19 has been inconsistent across individual Field Offices, causing great uncertainty for formerly detained people. In some commendable instances, ICE has agreed not to re-detain anyone released as a result of COVID-19 related litigation. In other instances, however, ICE stated that the agency has not yet come to a decision regarding re-detention.”
Federal authorities reported 180,000 attempted illegal crossings Wednesday into the United States for the month of May, a high for President Joe Biden‘s administration. The May numbers, recording those who tried to get into the U.S. by sneaking between land crossings or were denied entry at border checkpoints, was up from 178,622 in April and 172,331 in March.
Out of the 180,034 people that have been encountered by authorities have been denied entry at a port, while the rest have managed to escape across the border in areas that are currently unfenced.
According to the Washington Examiner, ICE has not responded to a request for a comment.