Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) joined with 13 of his House colleagues in calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately close the Adelanto, California ICE facility and release all detainees held there.
In a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and ICE Acting Director Tony Pham, the Members express their deep concern regarding the treatment of detainees and the conditions at Adelanto ICE Processing Center. The Members also write that, “During this public health emergency, the confined nature of detention facilities may violate federal health recommendations and poses extraordinary risks for detainees as well as staff. Further, the spread of COVID-19 in detention centers poses a grave risk to the general public.”
The letter points out that in August, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Southern California filed a motion in U.S. District Court alleging that 1,900 COVID-19 test kits were sent to the Adelanto facility and officials refused to allow the vast majority of the kits to be used. Following this, an outbreak was reported at the facility and 39 detainees tested positive for the coronavirus. The numbers are growing, and as of October 9th, 147 detainees tested positive for coronavirus, as well as 31 staff members. Over a dozen detainees have been hospitalized due to COVID019 relation reasons. This outbreak is the largest among detention centers in the US.
The Members also express concerns about numerous reports indicating excessive use of the highly concentrated disinfectant HQD Neutral at the Adelanto facility. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, detainees have complained that “Adelanto facility employees are using a hazardous disinfectant spray about every 20 minutes in poorly ventilated areas, causing nose bleeds, burning eyes, nausea and headaches.” HDQ Neutral is designed to be used in well-ventilated area and the product should not be inhaled. However, multiple accounts from detainees at the Adelanto facility have asserted that staff have violated these guidelines and put detainees’ health at risk.
The Members conclude by stating, “…these incidents at the Adelanto facility seem part of pattern of poor public health protections at ICE facilities across the country. We call for the immediate closure of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, and the release of these detainees. We also call for an immediate halt to the expansion of any other immigration detention facilities.”