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Pueblo Sin Fronteras demands nationwide release of all detainees, inmates and prisoners due to coronavirus

Edgar Reyes  |  Issue: May | June 2020
community supporting refugees

The community supports refugees and asylum seekers by bringing them food and other items. Shelter in Tijuana, B.C. Mexico, December 2019.
PHOTO: MARGARITO DIAZ

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – Pueblo Sin Fronteras denounces conditions at immigration jails in the United States and demands freedom for all detained immigrants due to COVID-19.

It further demands the release of prisoners at local, state and federal jails and prisons.

For years, our organization has denounced the inhumane conditions at immigration jails in the United States, which are often run for profit by private companies. Conditions at jails and prisons across the United States were undignified, unhygienic, and dangerous before the arrival of COVID-19. This crisis forces us to call for steps to maintain the safety and dignity of immigrants and all incarcerated people.

 

migrant boy in tent city

This boy is standing in front of the tent city. He is among the many children who came with their parents as refugees and asylum seekers. Tijuana b.C. Mexico, December 2019.
PHOTO: MARGARITO DIAZ

 

At any given time, the U.S. government runs immigration jails that are filthy. The authorities actively block access to medical care for detainees who have pre-existing conditions or get sick inside the facilities. Staff at Adelanto in California, routinely “ignore all but the most serious medical emergencies.” Ten people died last year while in immigration jails.

We stand in solidarity with efforts by currently detained people who are raising the alarm and advocating for their release, such as those in the Bristol County (Massachusetts) and Etowah County (Alabama) detention centers.

The COVID-19 crisis is a death sentence for the 1.5 million people currently incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. If the U.S. government does not act immediately to release incarcerated people, almost everyone in a jail or prison will be infected. Up to 75,000 people could die under the watch of U.S. authorities. This is a life-or-death humanitarian crisis.

We call on acting secretary Chad Wolf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), House and Senate members of the Homeland Security committees and all relevant state and federal actors to immediately release all incarcerated immigrants. We further demand the release of prisoners at local, state and federal jails. We know that to stop the pandemic of COVID-19, we must end the pandemic of mass imprisonment.

Finally, we say to all immigrants and working people in this country: We may not be able to meet in person, but neither can we sit and do nothing. If an institution is not fit to guarantee the health and dignity of the people it serves during a time of crisis, it cannot be allowed to run in times of prosperity. Now is the time to end the pandemic of mass imprisonment.

Edgar Reyes: refugeecaravan@gmail.com

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