By Bud Conlin, reprinted from Latina Comunica
I have been an immigrant rights activist for many years, have made several hundred visits to folks in detention camps and am a founding member of the Miramar Circle of Protection, a coalition of human rights organizations which has established a presence at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) substation in Miramar for almost three years to inform immigrants about their rights and witness ICE’s abuses. All this has led me to know with certainty that ICE has now reached a new level of depravity, inhumanity and recklessness, heretofore unimaginable: they don’t care if immigrants get sick or die from Coronavirus.
For years, this inadequate check-in facility forces immigrants of all ages and health conditions, folks who are trying to follow the law, to stand, often by the hundreds, cheek to jowl, with no shelter or access to bathroom facilities, waiting for an ICE bureaucrat to decide if they are worthy to stay in this country for a while longer, or if they will be put in three point restraints to disappear into the beast of the detention and deportation machine.
Under regular circumstances, the environment at ICE Miramar is a holy hell, one which we have spoken about and acted against almost daily. Fast forward to mid-March 2020, and the real threat from COVID – 19: Nothing has changed. Despite guidance from the Center for Disease Control, the White House, and state and local offices, for people to avoid crowds and to self-quarantine, nothing has changed at ICE Miramar.
ICE has truly gone rogue, even by their own ruthless past behavior. Folks are still being forced to endure these harsh, dangerous, and unhealthy conditions. Constant calls over the last few weeks to shutter the facility have been met with a stony silence at the local, regional, and federal levels of ICE. Their arrogance not only endangers immigrants; it is putting ICE employees and the community at flagrant and dangerous risk.
As a community, we must rise up with one voice and say no to this unnecessary source of disease spread and unnecessary cruelty. Stop requiring immigrants to physically report until this danger has passed.
Bud Conlin is the Director of Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees and a member of the Miramar Circle of Protection. Cover photo features Bud with Wendy King.