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Compounding Suffering During a Pandemic: A Case Study in ICE's Detention Failures

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Introduction

Families have been torn apart since the creation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2003. The restructuring of the government's homeland security branch was a direct result of the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. The intensification of the need for increased border security, which continues to this day, can also be seen as a response to fear. This fear of "others," of migrants, of all non-white foreign-born individuals is also a reflection of the systemic racism uniquely challenging this country. The global pandemic has further heightened the existing US racial and class divides.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has consistently attacked immigrant and migrant communities even during the pandemic. This report provides an overview of the immigration detention system, and thoroughly analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on individuals in ICE detention at the Otay Mesa Detention Center (OMDC), and the government's failure at providing the necessary protections, including releasing people from immigration prisons that have experienced a high number of COVID-positive cases.