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What is VEED?

VEED is a program that provides detained immigrants with accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine from trusted medical professionals, in the language of their choice. It was created in response to numerous complaints from immigrants about not receiving any information from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its private detention operators.

Why is VEED important?

Immigration detention is not only an immigrants' rights issue, but a public health issue. Despite frequent COVID outbreaks, ICE has no national plan to vaccinate detained immigrants. This lack of centralized coordination has led to numerous detained immigrants not being vaccinated and COVID-19 continuing to run rampant. 

The lack of proper safeguards, especially during a pandemic, has significant health consequences for communities that house detention centers. ICE has reported that 40,448 detained immigrants have contracted COVID during the past two years and that 11 have died, including the first death happening in California. However, given that 551,736 COVID tests were administered during the same period, we believe the actual number of individuals who have contracted the virus is much higher than reported.

How did VEED come to be?

In California, thanks to the efforts of advocates such as CCIJ and its partners, Governor Newsom clarified California’s vaccine plan to include immigrants in detention. While Newsom's announcement allowed California to use its vaccine supply for immigrant detention centers, immigrants were asked to sign up for the vaccine without receiving sufficient or trusted information. At one border detention facility, detained individuals shared that the National Guard came in dressed in military fatigues to distribute the vaccine. Not surprisingly, many immigrants declined the vaccine due to issues like mistrust of officials and misinformation. 

As a direct result of this botched vaccine rollout, CCIJ created the Vaccine Education and Empowerment in Detention (VEED) program.

Receiving information from someone other than their jailor and in a caring, culturally and linguistically competent manner can make all the difference. The detained immigrants we work with have shared that they are rightfully distrustful of ICE and its private detention operators, especially given the disturbing track record of medical neglect and human rights abuses in immigrant detention centers.

How does VEED work?

Our VEED Manager works with CCIJ’s legal team to flag any detained immigrants who have requested information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

We follow up with individuals to learn more about their needs and schedule calls with medical professionals as needed. In order to provide the best possible information, CCIJ is partnering with trusted medical providers such as the Latino Coalition Against COVID-19, a collaborative focused on health equity among Latinx communities. In addition, CCIJ tracks any potential vaccine access issues or delays and works with partners to find solutions to these issues and delays.

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