COVID-19 Vaccines in Immigrant Detention

The California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, in partnership with Immigrant Defense Advocates have launched a campaign to clarify the status of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in immigrant detention.

In January a spokesman for Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) told reporters “[S]tates…will determine when ICE detainees are vaccinated,”and noted that the agency is actively working with state and local public health departments on the vaccination of individuals in immigration detention.

We are demanding California state officials clarify their plans to provide COVID-19 vaccines to immigrants in six detention facilities in the state after federal officials indicated that final decisions on vaccinations for detained immigrants would be delegated to states.  California has the right and the responsibility to protect the health and safety of individuals in ICE detention in our state. Ensuring that individuals inside these facilities have information and access to the COVID-19 vaccine is part of that responsibility.

The California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice reached out to individuals detained inside the Mesa Verde Detention Facility, who shared the following statement. “The vaccine should be available, especially because there are elderly people here and people who are vulnerable. But people want to get it from someone outside, not ICE. We need someone to come in and educate on what the vaccine is, someone that people trust.”

Immigrant Defense Advocates and the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice sent letters to the Governor, as well as Public Health Officials and working groups focused on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. The letters highlight the need to include immigrant detention facilities in any discussions or plans for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

12/19/20 Letter to California Health Officials on Immigrant Detention and Vaccine Workgroups

1/27/21 Follow-up Letter on Immigrant Detention and Vaccines

Find out how you can take action on this issue by using our advocacy toolkit:

Toolkit For Public Comment On COVID-19 and Immigrant Detention

Vaccines and Immigration Detention in the Press:

  1. Desert Sun – When will ICE detainees get vaccinated? ‘I don’t know,’ state official says

  2. The Independent – California governor urged to vaccinate hundreds of detained migrants amid confusion over plans

  3. KTVU -Lawmakers, immigrant rights advocates question California’s plan to vaccinate ICE detainees

  4. Sacramento Bee – Democrats push Newsom to prioritize COVID vaccinations for California’s immigrant detainees

  5. LA Times Op-Ed – COVID is rampant in ICE lockups. Where’s the vaccine?

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