Over 200 Florida doctors, medical students and healthcare workers are calling for the release of immigrants held in detention facilities by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In an open letter addressed to ICE officials responsible for the detention of more than 2000 immigrants in Florida, doctors and others called for the immediate release of all ICE detainees, with priority for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions who are most susceptible to infection with the novel coronavirus.
See a copy of the letter sent to ICE Officials Matthew Albence and Jim Martin here.
“Detention in the era of COVID-19 is a death sentence.”
Dr. Lily Ostrer
“We already know of two positive cases amid detainees in South Florida, and there are possibly many more we don’t know about,” said Dr. Claudia Álvarez, Family Physician and Hospitalist in Miami, Florida and member of Doctors for Camp Closure. “We don’t know what kind of measures ICE is taking to test detainees and to prevent further spread and we know that ultimately there is no safe way to physically distance in detention camps.“
Dr. Frankyln Rocha-Cabrero, Neurologist in Miami, Florida, leader with the Florida Chapter of the American Medical Association and with the Committee of Interns and Residents, asserted:
“We hear that detainees do not have adequate access to sanitation, that neither guards nor detainees are wearing masks, and that adequate quarantine is not taking place. We are calling on ICE to demonstrate leadership and aid the medical workforce in trying to stem the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic by immediately releasing individuals from ICE detention.”
“Detention in the era of COVID-19 is a death sentence,” stated Dr. LIly Ostrer, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics physician in Miami, Florida and leader with the Committee of Interns and Residents. “ICE needs to immediately release individuals from detention, or we risk widespread mortality and overwhelming our entire local medical system. This is not only a matter of human rights, but of smart public health policy.”
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