El Paso ICE facility second in migrants under isolation, observation for COVID-19

Migrant Centers

This AP file photo shows protesters marching outside the ICE Processing Center on Montana Avenue in El Paso, Texas. (AP file photo)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Two Texas facilities lead the nation when it comes to detained migrants in isolation or active monitoring for COVID-19.

The Bluebonnet Detention Facility in Anson, Texas, has 100 such detainees and the El Paso Service Processing Center in East El Paso has 74, according to the official U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) page.

Cases at the El Paso center have jumped nearly 60% in less than a week, with 31 new cases reported, according to daily monitoring from KTSM.

The facility has reported 82 cases among detainees since the pandemic began. In ICE’s El Paso Field Office, that’s second only to the Otero County Processing Center, which has recorded 92 total and currently has only four in isolation or monitoring.

Border Report on Wednesday asked ICE officials what accounted for the high number of active cases at Bluebonnet and El Paso Service Processing Center and is awaiting a response.

An NBC News report said earlier that frequent transfers of detainees from one state to another possibly led to outbreaks at detention centers in Texas and four other states.

Advocates and Democratic Texas lawmakers have requested that ICE stop detainee transfers during the pandemic, increase testing and release at-risk migrants.

As of Wednesday, ICE had 24,713 migrants in detention nationwide, of whom 788 were in isolation or monitoring for COVID-19. Forty-five percent of those in isolation or monitoring are in Texas.

In its web page, ICE says it instituted screening guidance for newly arrived detainees and that it isolates detainees with fever or respiratory symptoms to observe them for a specified period. ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations also encourages facilities to isolate new arrivals for 14 days before placing them into the general population, the website says.

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