Organizers part of the Miramar Circle of protection and Friends of Miami Dade Detainees are concerned about the conditions in which immigrant detainees are being held in South Florida and their exposure to Coronavirus in already crowded facilities. Since last week, they have been receiving phone calls and text messages from family members of people detained at the Broward Transitional Center (BTC) in Pompano Beach, FL, saying there is an outbreak of coronavirus and that they believe 5-6 people are infected and in quarantine.
One of the calls received by the organizers last week was from a relative of a 23-year-old Venezuelan immigrant named Rosemary detained at the Broward Transitional Center (BTC) since December for driving without a license. According to Rosmary’s family, she suffers from asthma and diabetes, and they fear she may be at risk of contracting the Coronavirus COVID-19 at BTC after she told them that several detainees have shown symptoms related to the virus. She claims she has seen at least three other detainees with serious symptoms related to COVID-19.
The detainees also say that a large group were on a hunger strike last week because ICE is not only not doing anything about the current detainees, but they are still bringing in new detainees who are not being tested. Detainees at another ICE detention facility in Glades County were on a hunger strike since last week.
“Detention centers in South Florida will become death camps if we don’t take action, this is a public health crisis,” says Maria Bilbao, Community Organizer with United We Dream. “ICE needs to stop detaining more immigrants and free all detainees immediately.”
The organizers are demanding that all confined immigrants be released, beginning with those over fifty years old, and those with compromised immune systems or exhibiting respiratory distress.
Bud Conlin, Chair of Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees says: “We have multiple firsthand accounts of inadequate food, lack of sanitation products, and no protective masks for detained immigrants forced to be in close proximity to each other. This brewing pot of disease is a time bomb. There is no such thing as social distancing in detention camps.”
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