ICE Detainee Tests Positive for COVID-19 in New Jersey

March 25, 2020 Updated: March 25, 2020
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A 31-year-old Mexican national being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has tested positive for COVID-19, authorities said.

ICE said in a statement that the infected individual was being cared for after being put into quarantine at the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Officials said that people who came into contact with the detainee have been identified and are being monitored. They said that no new inmates would be accepted into the facility “until further information is available.”

This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in ICE detention.

ICE agent arrests illegal alien
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent detains an illegal immigrant in a file photograph. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Andrea Flores, deputy director of policy in the Equality Division at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement following the ICE announcement that the dire warnings of health experts about the risk of COVID-19’s rapid spread in detention centers are now even more urgent.

She said specialists cautioned that detainees are “sitting ducks for the spread of the virus” and an outbreak among detainees would spell disaster.

“The suffering and death that will occur is unnecessary and preventable,” Flores wrote. “ICE must take immediate and drastic steps to reduce the number of people in detention. If it doesn’t, it will be to blame for a humanitarian crisis.”

Currently, ICE has over 37,000 detainees.

‘Quarantine On-site’

On Sunday, the Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey went on lockdown after two inmates tested positive for the CCP virus.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and spark a global pandemic.

James Kennelly, Hudson County spokesman, was cited by NorthJersey.com as saying that two inmates tested positive for COVID-19. He added that no staff or ICE detainees remanded at the jail tested positive for the virus.

“The inmates have been placed in quarantine within the Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center,” he wrote in an email, the publication reported. “They will be treated according to guidelines established on March 13th for the possibility of infection which are: quarantine on-site and then medical care at an outside facility if required.”

Rikers Island federal prison
Rikers Island jail complex stands under a blanket of snow in the Bronx borough of New York City on Jan. 5, 2018. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The Hudson County jail lockdown came the same day that New York City suffered a COVID-19 outbreak at its Rikers Island prison, with at least 38 people testing positive.

ICE said it has taken steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 among detainees.

“ICE is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal, state, and local agencies to facilitate a speedy, whole-of-government response in confronting Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), keeping everyone safe, and helping detect and slow the spread of the virus,” the agency said on its website.

“Comprehensive protocols are in place for the protection of staff and patients, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), in accordance with CDC guidance,” ICE said. “ICE has maintained a pandemic workforce protection plan since February 2014, which was last updated in May 2017. This plan provides specific guidance for biological threats such as COVID-19.”

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