Advocates Sound the Alarm: Deaths in ICE Detention are Imminent

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Washington, DC — In response to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and ICE’s refusal to release all people in detention, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:

“Thousands of doctors and hundreds of advocates have been urgently sounding the alarm since early March that people in immigration detention are sitting ducks in a system notorious for its fatally flawed medical care and abysmal conditions that only worsen in times of crisis. Even the former acting director of ICE, John Sandweg, has called for the release of people in detention. 

“The number of COVID-19 cases in ICE facilities is rising rapidly. The evidence is clear: if ICE continues to keep people locked up, we know that a COVID-19 related death of a person in immigration detention is imminent. ICE will cause preventable deaths if they don’t act now by releasing all people from detention.”

Detention Watch Network recently released a report, Courting Catastrophe: How ICE is Gambling with Immigrant Lives Amid a Global Pandemic on the danger an outbreak poses on both immigrant lives and public health.


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention.