At the end of 2019, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, began a massive series of raids in “sanctuary cities” such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston, which have passed ordinances against fully cooperating with ICE. In this effort, called “Operation Palladium,” hundreds of ICE officers have orders to “flood the streets,” using unmarked cars and extensive surveillance to arrest as many undocumented people as possible. This has been proposed to continue through the year, and the spread of the coronavirus has not slowed down ICE at all. Even after the “shelter in place” orders, ICE has continued its terror and arrested people around the country. They even arrested people visiting hospitals in Pennsylvania and New York. These actions send terror through the country’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom will likely avoid seeking medical treatment.
Conditions are even worse once people are arrested. While the coronavirus spreads through every level of society, the more than 55,000 people currently in immigrant detention camps are at extremely high risk for the disease. These detention centers, much like prisons, are notorious for being extremely unsanitary, with little or no access to medical care, people packed in close quarters to each other, and food that often makes people sick. Even if just one person brings in the virus from the outside, it can spread very rapidly to everyone.
Not only is the treatment of immigrants in the U.S. absolutely sick during “normal times,” it is likely fueling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, by instilling greater fear about going out and getting medical treatment, as well as through the atrociously unsanitary conditions in detention facilities.
Featured image credit: Associated Press via New York Post