After months of ignoring the outbreak of Covid-19 in ICE detention, Acting Director Matthew T. Albence Stepping Down

For Immediate Release: 
Friday, July 31, 2020

Washington, DC — In response to the announcement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew T. Albence is retiring, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network made the following statement:

“During Albence’s tenure at ICE, including leading the Enforcement and Removal Operations and serving as Acting Director of the agency, he ruthlessly double-downed on ICE’s mission to target people, separate loved ones, and sow fear into communities nationwide. Over the last several months of the pandemic he has ignored the outbreak of Covid-19 inside detention centers and willfully spread the virus abroad through continued deportations. Despite countless calls to not only protect those detained, but staff and guards as well as the broader public by releasing people, he refused. In doing so, he showed that depriving immigrants of their liberty was of greater importance than the country’s public health. 

Under Albence’s draconian leadership, the racist underpinnings of ICE were increasingly evident. ICE acts with impunity evading accountability at every turn through its culture of secrecy and leadership. With Albence gone, we await the new face of ICE, while knowing that regardless of who holds the director position this agency is rotten to its core and needs to be abolished. ICE is a stain on the United States.” 


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. Visit Follow @DetentionWatch.