As COVID-19 sweeps into every corner of the U.S., immigrants in detention centers plead for their lives as they wait for the virus to reach the facilities they’re trapped in. Many have told us they simply are not getting vital resources like hand-washing information, enough space for social distancing or even soap to protect themselves.
Until recently, ‘Naelly’ [name changed for her own safety] was one of approximately 37,000 detainees locked up in ICE custody grappling with the anxiety and uncertainty of how to stay safe when totally dependent on a government agency that has demonstrated medical negligence in the past.
After being released, Naelly told us, “I feel safer outside than inside because I know that out here if I have any symptoms I can seek medical attention.”
Naelly fled her native country of Honduras to seek asylum in the U.S. She hoped for safety here but instead spent four months in a Texas detention center, becoming scared that she and her friends inside were sitting ducks for infection once news of the virus began spreading.
She says that the lack of information and protection measures set off panic among families who are detained, “I know it will arrive sooner or later. It will reach them because it’s inevitable…[My friends] are very, very worried because it’s spreading and [ICE] isn’t treating it seriously enough.”
The only safe option now is for the government to free all detained immigrants so they can protect themselves and their loved ones. Most have family waiting for them. You can check out our COVID19 response page to see ways you can help us push the government to #FreeThemAll.
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