Contact: Esperanza Cuautle Velazquez | advocate[@]pangealegal.org |
Laura Duarte Bateman | laura[@]ccijustice.org |
For immediate release
September 9, 2021
ICE Conducts Mass Transfers Amidst COVID-19 Surge in Kern County, ICU Beds Near Capacity
McFarland, CA — While a surge in positive coronavirus cases sweeps Kern County, leaders detained at Golden State Annex (GSA) and advocates categorically reject ICE’s intimidation tactic of transferring people in the middle of the night and issued the following statement:
“ICE began a mass-transfer campaign of individuals detained at Golden State Annex to Mesa Verde Detention Facility at around midnight on Wednesday. So far at least 15 people have been moved between facilities, with several waiting in the pipeline. These transfers come at the heels of a complaint filed with the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on behalf of eight plaintiffs, some of which have been targets of the mass-transfer campaign.
ICE’s decision to transfer individuals between facilities in the midst of a global pandemic, especially as Kern County faces a surge in COVID-19 cases and reaches ICU bed capacity, puts the lives of detained immigrants and Kern County residents at risk. ICE is violating CDC guidelines, which require that people be tested and receive negative results before they can be transferred and recommends a 14-day quarantine both before and after transfer. In addition, advocates raise grave concerns given that The GEO Group does not require their staff, including guards, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Questions remain with respect to the purpose behind the mass-transfer campaign that occurred well past midnight. Individuals detained at Golden State Annex are feeling mentally and physically distressed, especially people with underlying medical and mental health conditions that are rendered particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Rather than continuing to put people’s lives at risk in civil detention, we demand that ICE release individuals to the care of their communities where they are able to receive the appropriate medical care that is non-existent in detention facilities across the state.”