March 18, 2020

Wyden Demands Answers on Coronavirus Preparedness in Immigration Detention Facilities

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today joined colleagues to demand information about the policies and procedures U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have in place to prepare for and manage a potential spread of the novel coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19) among detainees and staff in DHS facilities.

In a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf, ICE Acting Director Matthew T. Albence and CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan, the senators wrote, “Detained persons are especially vulnerable to the spread of infection and ensuring sufficient care and monitoring is uniquely challenging. According to public health experts, detained individuals ‘are at special risk of infection, given their living situations,’ and ‘may also be less able to participate in proactive measures to keep themselves safe, and infection control is challenging in these settings.’”

The senators continued, “Given the spread of the virus in the U.S.—and the particular vulnerability of individuals in immigration detention and staff—it is critical that DHS, ICE, and CBP have plans to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus at DHS facilities and to protect detained persons, facility staff, and the general public.”

Joining Wyden on the letter were U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chris Coons, D-Del., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Bernie Sanders. I-Vt., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

A copy of the letter is available here.