Over 200 hundred cars and 700 people last week participated in a car rally outside Eloy Detention Center and La Palma Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona, to demand Enrique Lucero, ICE Field Office Director, and Doug Ducey, Arizona Governor, use their emergency powers to immediately release all migrants to protect them from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ICE has the legal authority to release the majority of these detainees right now,” said Rachel Wilson, Esq, immigration attorney. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that these detention centers are death camps. It’s important to remember that Anne Frank died during a typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen. We can’t turn away from this. It is an absolute catastrophe.”
As of April 10, ICE has confirmed five COVID-19 cases in Arizona: two in La Palma Detention Center and three at Florence SPC. Advocates believe the real number of cases is far higher.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that these detention centers are death camps. It’s important to remember that Anne Frank died during a typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen. We can’t turn away from this. It is an absolute catastrophe.”
Rachel Wilson, Attorney
Alejandra Alor Reyes, a Mexican transgender woman ICE released on April 10, after nine months at La Palma, where she suffered sexual assault and prolonged solitary confinement, said, “I was terrified I would be infected with coronavirus. ICE officials aren’t wearing masks. CO’s aren’t wearing gloves; we would hear some of them coughing throughout the night.” At last week’s car rally, demonstrators wore face masks and gloves as they called on ICE to make LGBTQ+ migrants a top priority for release, along with those who are chronically ill or have a disability.
Eloy and La Palma are both on lockdown. CoreCivic guards at La Palma confiscate homemade masks, send migrants to solitary confinement for expressing concern about COVID-19, and punish migrants organizing to protect themselves from the virus.
“Over the weekend, CoreCivic guards at La Palma used pepper spray against our people inside after they questioned ICE’s response to COVID-19 and challenged lockdown conditions,” said Karla Bautista Chonay, Liberation Coordinator with Trans Queer Pueblo. And in California on April 10, CoreCivic guards at the Otay Mesa Detention Center pepper sprayed migrants after they made makeshift masks to protect themselves against COVID-19.
Bautista Chonay added, “ICE can’t repress this virus with brutal force and pepper spray. There is only one humane solution for Arizona: #FreeThemAll now.”
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