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A group of House Democrats on Wednesday urged Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security to refrain from re-detaining previously released migrants due to coronavirus concerns.
ICE's detention policies across several field offices have "been inconsistent" and caused "great uncertainty" for migrants, wrote the 40 Democrats, led by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.
"Specifically, we urge you to refrain from re-detaining individuals previously released due to COVID-19 solely due to the improving pandemic conditions and to continue robust safety measures in ICE detention centers, including access to vaccines," the Democrats wrote. "These steps are vital to fulfilling your obligations to protect the health and safety of people in ICE custody, ICE staff, and the families who live in the communities where ICE detention centers exist."
As of May 31, 16,000 coronavirus cases were reported in ICE facilities, and nine have died from the virus, the letter said.
The rate of infection in the holding buildings "is 20 times greater than in the general public," and migrants should be allowed to live "safely at home with their families," the lawmakers added.
"These formerly detained people, however, continue to live with the constant fear of redetention by ICE," the letter added. "ICE’s position regarding the re-detention of people released due to COVID-19 has been inconsistent across individual Field Offices, causing great uncertainty for formerly detained people. In some commendable instances, ICE has agreed not to re-detain anyone released as a result of COVID-19 related litigation. In other instances, however, ICE stated that the agency has not yet come to a decision regarding re-detention."
Federal authorities reported 180,000 attempted illegal crossings Wednesday into the United States for the month of May, a high for President Joe Biden's administration. The May numbers, recording those who tried to get into the U.S. by sneaking between land crossings or were denied entry at border checkpoints, was up from 178,622 in April and 172,331 in March.
Roughly 8,000 of the 180,034 people whom border authorities encountered were denied entry at a port, while the remainder went across the border through unfenced areas.
Biden has faced bipartisan backlash for his handling of the crisis at the southern border. Vice President Kamala Harris has recently been the subject of criticism after putting off a trek to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Migrants continue to flood into the country in record numbers, and Biden's cohort has scrambled to open new facilities to house the influx.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
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Original Author: Jake Dima
Original Location: House Democrats urge ICE to stop re-detaining migrants