Raices’ Statement in response to the news of a death in the Otay Mesa Detention Center

San Antonio, Texas – Today we learned that a man detained by ICE at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego has died from COVID-19. This tragedy appears to be the first COVID-19 related death of a detained migrant in ICE custody.

Our hearts go out to this man’s loved ones. His death is tragic and was completely preventable.

Right now roughly 660 people are detained in Otay Mesa and 132 of them have tested positive for COVID-19. For months advocates in California from leading organizations including Immigration Defense and Pueblo Sin Fronteras have called for the release of all detained people at the Core Civic operated Otay Mesa Detention Center before it’s too late.

As COVID-19 has swept into every corner of the U.S., immigrants in detention centers are pleading for their lives as they wait for the virus to reach the facilities they’re trapped in. Many currently detained in the Karnes detention center in Texas 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.

“My heart goes out to this man’s family and loved ones. May he rest in peace. ICE has this man’s blood on their hands. They’ve known for months the real and present danger of this happening yet they’ve not released enough people from detention. An outbreak of COVID-19 in a detention center is a mass tragedy waiting to happen. ICE must free them all before it’s too late.” – Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy at RAICES Texas

RAICES is demanding people currently detained in immigration detention across the country to be released immediately. We’re also demanding ICE:

  • Cease all local enforcement operations including civil enforcement and criminal referrals;
  • Eliminate ICE check-ins, use of electronic monitoring, and mandatory court appearances;
  • Make phone and video calls free for people connecting with their loved ones;
  • Ensure all facilities where people are detained in ICE custody, be it county jails or dedicated facilities, are prioritizing the health and well-being of people detained;
  • And allow for families and organizations to post bond online.