Detention center i McAllen | Photo courtesy United States Department of Homeland Security
In response to continued ICE and CBP detention in the El Paso-Las Cruces-Alamogordo region, 27 local and national groups and area elected officials sent a letter to area public health officials on April 2 highlighting the public health risk of continued detention and a mass COVID-19 outbreak in these facilities.
The organizations call for an orderly, coordinated release of individuals from ICE and CBP detention in the area, as well as greater public engagement on conditions and pandemic planning at these facilities.
Statement of the Bishop of El Paso on the Need to Release Detainees from ICE Custody in the Current COVID-19 Pandemic – 7th April, 2020
This is an unprecedented moment when every El Pasoan and all of our institutions are being called to solidarity, compassion and concern for the entire community. In a sober way, now we see how each of our destinies really are intertwined, and how every one of us really is our brother’s keeper.
Faith and reason tell us that the right thing to do right now is to protect each other by taking steps toward social distancing. The federal government has already recognized that this is very nearly impossible in facilities like prisons and detention centers.
Therefore, I’m calling on our local US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to urgently and quickly prioritize the release of nonviolent migrants from the immigration detention facilities in our community. This will protect the health of migrants,
our immigration enforcement personnel and our entire El Paso community.
Our faith compels us to welcome the stranger with compassion. And this is also a matter of public health. By keeping non-violent migrants in immigration custody, we are placing everyone in danger.
Together, I know we can overcome this crisis. I also invite our local government leaders to join me in calling on ICE for an urgent dialogue on the need to release non-violent offenders. This cannot happen soon enough. Our lives depend on it.
Mark J. Seitz, D.D.
Bishop of El Paso
Today the Hope Border Institute stands with Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, Senator José Rodriguez, El Paso County Commissioner David Stout, El Paso City Representative Alexandra Annello, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and Annunciation House in calling on US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take immediate steps to release migrants from immigrant detention centers in the borderlands.
The vast majority of migrants in ICE custody have committed no crime at all and represent no threat to our community. However, the continued mass detention of migrants and asylum seekers in these facilities in this time of COVID-19 pandemic represents a clear and present danger to the health of migrants, border enforcement personnel and the entire El Paso community. As Bishop Seitz has pointed out, this cannot happen soon enough; our lives depend on it.
Dylan Corbett Executive Director
Hope Border Institute