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More than 2,000 immigrants in quarantine in US detention centers due to outbreaks

(Reuters) – Christian Mejia believed he had a shot at getting out of the immigration quarters in rural Louisiana after finding a lawyer to help him seek asylum. Then he was quarantined. At the beginning of January, an outcry on the private-owned Pine Prairie US immigration and customs procedure (ICE) put Processing Center Mejia and hundreds of other prisoners on lockdown. "When there is only one person who is sick, everyone pays," said Mejia, 19, in a telephone interview from the Pine Prairie Center describing weeks without visits and access to the library and dining room. His lawyer was not allowed, but his immigration court continued anyway – over a video conference line. On February 1 2, the judge ordered Mejia deported back to Honduras. The number of people gathered in immigration prison during the Trump administration has reached record increases, raising concerns among immigrant candidates about disease outbreaks and resulting quarantine that restrict access to legal services. As of March 6, more than 50,000 immigrants were in prison, according to ICE data. Internal emails reviewed by Reuters reveal the complications of dealing with outbreaks like that in Pine Prairie, as immigrant prisoners are often transmitted across the country and infected people do not necessarily show symptoms of viral diseases even when they are contagious. ICE Health Officers have been notified of 236 confirmed or probable cases of prison domination of 51 establishments over the past 12 months, compared to no cases discovered between January 2016 and February 2018. Last…

(Reuters) – Christian Mejia believed he had a shot at getting out of the immigration quarters in rural Louisiana after finding a lawyer to help him seek asylum.

Then he was quarantined.

At the beginning of January, an outcry on the private-owned Pine Prairie US immigration and customs procedure (ICE) put Processing Center Mejia and hundreds of other prisoners on lockdown. “When there is only one person who is sick, everyone pays,” said Mejia, 19, in a telephone interview from the Pine Prairie Center describing weeks without visits and access to the library and dining room.

His lawyer was not allowed, but his immigration court continued anyway – over a video conference line. On February 1

2, the judge ordered Mejia deported back to Honduras.

The number of people gathered in immigration prison during the Trump administration has reached record increases, raising concerns among immigrant candidates about disease outbreaks and resulting quarantine that restrict access to legal services.

As of March 6, more than 50,000 immigrants were in prison, according to ICE data.

Internal emails reviewed by Reuters reveal the complications of dealing with outbreaks like that in Pine Prairie, as immigrant prisoners are often transmitted across the country and infected people do not necessarily show symptoms of viral diseases even when they are contagious.

ICE Health Officers have been notified of 236 confirmed or probable cases of prison domination of 51 establishments over the past 12 months, compared to no cases discovered between January 2016 and February 2018. Last year, 423 prisoners were determined to have the flu. and 461 to have chicken pox. All three diseases are largely preventable through vaccines.

On March 7, there were a total of 2887 prisoners in quarantine around the country, an ICE official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters.

Ten Democratic members of Congress sent a letter on February 28 to ICE Executive Director Ronald Vitiello, seeking more information on viral diseases at Immigration Centers in Colorado, Arizona and Texas. Legislators did not mention the Pine Prairie outbreak.

Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the GEO Group, the private prison operator operating Pine Prairie under government contracts, said healthcare professionals follow standards set by ICE and health authorities. He said the caregiving prisoners allowed the company to “detect, process and follow appropriate medical protocols to deal with an infectious outbreak.”

“UNPRECEDENTED NUMBERS”

The first cases at Pine Prairie were discovered in January in four migrants recently transferred from the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi, according to internal emails.

Since January, Tallahatchie, run by the private detention company CoreCivic, has had five confirmed cases of debris and 18 cases of chicken pox, according to the company’s spokesman Amanda Gilchrist. She said that no one diagnosed was transferred from the plant while the disease was active.

Tallahatchie holds hundreds of immigrants recently arrested along the US-Mexico border, ICE officials said.

On Tuesday, Kevin McAleenan, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, told journalists to change the demographics of the southwestern border, with more immigrants from Central America traveling long distances, overwhelmed border workers, and raising health issues.

“We see that immigrants arrive with diseases and medical conditions in unprecedented numbers,” McAleenan said at a press conference.

However, vaccination in the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is over 90 percent, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ICE prisoners come from countries all over the world, with varying degrees of vaccination coverage.

HIGH PROFILE BUSINESS & # 39;

At Pine Prairie, employees were sometimes in violation of the caretaker about how to handle hip flares, internal emails. The caretaker decided not to quarantine 40 new arrivals from Tallahatchie in February despite concerns from the medical staff, an email showed.

Caretaker Indalecio Ramos, who referred questions about the outbreak to the ICE and the GEO group, argued that the quarantines of the transfer would prevent them from participating in the court proceedings, the health manager wrote in a February 7 email.

In a Feb. 21 e-mail, ICE requested that medical staff at Pine Prairie cleanse a prisoner in quarantine for chicken pits and travel caps and called him a “high profile removal” scheduled for expulsion. “In a mail to staff later that day, Warden Ramos wrote that medical staff had wanted to exclude the prisoner from the transfer, but” ICE wants him to leave the country anyway … Make sure he leaves. “

The ICE spokesman said that the journey is limited for people who are known to be contagious but those who are exposed to diseases that are asymptomatic can travel.

Since January, the 1,094 bed Pine Prairie plant has had 18 prisoners with confirmed or probable cases of debris compared to With no case in 2018, according to ICE, from mid-February, 288 people were quarantined at Pine Prairie, and Mejia said his quarantine ended on February 25.

Detention centers in other states have also seen an increase in outbreaks. There have been 186 falls in immigration detention facilities in Texas since October, the biggest outbreak in centers there in recent years, says Lara Anton, Texas Departme’s press officer. nt of State Health Services

In Colorado, at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility near Denver, run by the GEO Group, 357 people have been quarantined after eight confirmed and five suspected cases of skin meat detected since February and six cases of chicken pox diagnosed since early January, Dr. Bernadette Albanese from the Tri County Health Department in Colorado said.

Civil law lawyer Danielle Jefferis said that court proceedings for quarantine immigrants at Aurora were largely discontinued.

At Pine Prairie on February 12, Mejia said he felt confused and hopeless during his video hearing, but a lawyer at his side.

After Mejia’s lawyers complained, lawyers visited rare prisoners on February 13 – one day late for Mejia.

While appealing his case, his lawyers say he could be deported at any time.

Reporting of Mika Rosenberg in New York and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Julie Marquis and Paul Thomasch

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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