Elm Staff Writer
As the nation faces the spread of the novel coronavirus, the main objective of almost every resident, health and government official has been to stop the spread of the virus.
The current death toll in the United States alone as of April 5 stands at around 9,100, according to CNN. Though the media coverage has been extensive on the toll it has taken on ordinary citizens and health officials in our nation, the forgotten includes those housed in our border detention facilities.
In 2018 the Trump administration passed its infamous “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in the detention and separation of adult family members and children. There are currently more than 35,000 people in Immigration Customs Enforcement prison facilities across the United States. As reported by Camilo Montoya-Galvez on CBS News, there are eight reported cases of detainees and an additional six detention center employees that have tested positive for COVID-19. These prison facilities received much scrutiny for the lack of sanitation from soap, showers, and beds as well as overcrowding. This creates a dangerous combination that could lead to the spread of the virus to not only those detained but also employees.
If the health of the global community is of utmost importance that must include those in the detention centers, where our government officials hold them against their will. These are individuals who are seeking for their asylum cases to be accepted for entry into the United States to have a chance of a better life for themselves and their families.
Democracy Now reports that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus along with a number of medical professionals have demanded ICE to release all prisoners from their facilities.
Because of this unprecedented event, the White House is now asking Congress to increase ICE’s budget to $249 million in order to convert four prisons to quarantine facilities, enhance sanitation services, and direct individuals to the Alternatives to Detention Program. This program allows for the release of asylum seekers by giving them ankle monitors while their cases are being examined.
However, the precautionary measure that ICE has taken instead is to temporarily suspend social visitations.
The danger of this virus is that it has a reproductive number of two, which means that each infected person spreads to at least two other people and this leads to spread that can be vast especially in places that are overcrowded with no sanitation.
The health of our nation should not only be limited to American citizens but rather it should be our government’s priority to stop COVID-19 from spreading within our borders as well as to work with national to stop the global spread. If the government really wants to stop the spread of the virus, they need to stick with their own motto: “we are all in this together.” This should include the most vulnerable like those imprisoned.