Lawmaker calls for coronavirus testing, release of some ICE detainees after 4 test positive in El Paso

Migrant Centers

A delegation of House Democrats led by Rep. Veronica Escobar, center in black, enter the El Paso Processing Center for a tour by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso, Texas, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. The facility drew attention this year after a group of hunger-striking immigrants were force-fed in January, and another group was forcibly hydrated in July. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

In this April 30, 2019, photo provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigrant detainees eat lunch at the El Paso Processing Center in El Paso, Texas. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar said Immigration and Customs Enforcement must test every detainee and employees who came in contact with four migrants who tested positive for the coronavirus in El Paso.

According to numbers updated Monday on ICE’s website, 220 ICE detainees nationwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, including four at the El Paso Processing Center in Escobar’s district.

Additionally, 160 ICE employees tested positive for the coronavirus, including 30 who work inside IDE detention facilities. ICE says on its website that some of the migrants might be counted, but are no longer in ICE custody.

On April 14, ICE said 77 detainees in 13 states had tested positive for the coronavirus.

@ICEgov must quickly act to test all immigrants and agents who come in contact with these individuals and release nonviolent detainees to save lives now,” Escobar tweeted.

For weeks, the agency has been under pressure to release detainees from detentions centers and jails where, health experts say, the coronavirus can be particularly dangerous. Last week, ICE said it had released more than 160 people and identified 600 detainees as “vulnerable.

Currently, about 34,000 people are in civil detention for immigration violations, according to Associated Press numbers, though the agency says about half are convicted criminals or have pending charges.

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