For immigrants in this country, times have almost always been tough. Especially if you’re an illegal immigrant facing deportation.
Well, coronavirus has you covered!
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE made a public statement on Wednesday, saying they are beginning to switch their focus to “public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds”, delaying its arrest of suspected individuals for violating immigration laws until after the coronavirus threat is dealt with.
“To ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, ICE will temporarily adjust its enforcement posture beginning March 18th.”
ICE mentioned they would use alternatives to detention when circumstances are appropriate, like in the case of lower-level offenders. These alternative measures include using ankle bracelets and telephonic monitoring systems.
With immigration being such an important cornerstone of the Trump Administration and his 2020 reelection campaign, it goes to show how serious this outbreak has become.
As a response to complaints issued by immigration judges and prosecutors alike about busy courts putting them at risk for contracting COVID-19, the U.S. Government has also canceled all deportation hearings for those immigrants who aren’t being detained in order to address this concern.
What’s more, the ICE agency has made a surprising announcement that immigrants do not have to be afraid of looking for medical attention during this time.
“Consistent with its sensitive locations policy, during the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.”
Some advocates for immigration however are skeptical about these new proclamations.
Maria Rodriguez is an executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition who reported to the Miami Herald “two incidents in Gainesville, where at least six workers were detained and transferred to a detention center and hundreds of people — without access to bathrooms outside to wash their hands — still being forced to check in at Miramar check-in center.”
About 200 non-detained people were standing outside in line at Miramar on Wednesday waiting for their mandatory check-ins. This raises serious sanitation and negligence issues considering the current state of affairs, and ICE’s commitment to what should clearly be taking precedence — social distancing.
ICE told the Miami Herald that it doesn’t have any plans to close its facilities at the moment however.
“At present time the agency has not [considered it]. However, in accordance with established practice, persons can call ahead and request to reschedule their appointment for a later date.”
ICE has yet to comment on whether it will release its 37,000 detainees from its detention centers, which poses a threat to contract the virus not only for immigrants involved but those officers and agents working at the detention centers.
With the coronavirus pandemic still showing no signs of slowing in the United States, immigrants face yet another oppressing challenge to overcome. Deferring efforts to more pressing matters is exactly what needs to be done in this time of great need.
John Rosenbaum is an Orange County Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury attorney.