The spread of COVID-19 has added a new sense of urgency to reforming how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handles immigrant detentions. Lawyers for 11 immigrants currently being held in Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado recently said the spread of the coronavirus inside the facility has placed the prisoners’ lives in jeopardy. The lawyers are suing ICE to compel the federal agency to release the detainees.
Last March, Maria Celeste Ochoa Yoc de Ramirez, a Guatemalan woman who was seeking asylum, died in ICE custody while in a Fort Worth hospital. Recent investigative reporting from the Dallas Morning News, Buzzfeed, and other prominent publications has found that Ramirez’ case is not unique. Medical abuse of jailed immigrants at the hands of ICE agents is widespread, the reporting found.