by Luna Reyna
As the delta variant spreads across the country, transfers to Northwest ICE Processing Center are spreading the virus to some of our state’s most vulnerable.
In 2018 the University of Washington Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) began collecting data on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flights with the assistance of Yakima Immigrant Response Network. These flights, also called ICE Air, were once carried out by the U.S. Marshals. Today, they are carried out by private businesses through private deportation contracts for ICE that are worth millions. According to Phil Neff, project coordinator for the UWCHR, the data revealed that nearly 600 people transferred to Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in June 2021 — the most transfers from ICE Air to the facility since June 2014. With these transfers came the transmission of COVID-19, resulting in the worst outbreak of the virus the facility has ever seen.
According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health, an outbreak is considered two cases within 14 days of each other. NWIPC reported 32 cases in under 14 days. According to ICE reports, each new case was a transfer from the southern border. “My understanding is that most of them are asylum seekers …” Neff explained. “Under human rights terms, asylum seekers shouldn’t be indefinitely detained.” This number has only increased since June. At least 150 people, including nine guards and one medical personnel, have tested positive.Continue reading COVID-19 Outbreak at ICE Detention Center Continues