Editor: Eunice Kim
The total number of deaths involving COVID-19 reached almost 160,000 as of August 20, 2020, with even higher numbers reported when excess deaths and the lasting health damages are accounted for. As COVID-19 evolved from an epidemic into a pandemic from February to July, it became clear that the public health crisis was disproportionately exposing certain populations—especially African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants and refugees—to infection and death.
This collection includes news articles, journal articles, and podcasts that highlight the current symptoms of such health disparities on foreign-born populations in the U.S. They show the existing structural inequalities based on immigration status and race, the working and living conditions in the US that negatively impact immigrants and mixed status families, and the xenophobic policies increased the health risks for immigrants. This was especially true in places such as crowded border entry points and detention centers. Together, these sources help answer the questions such as: What are the conditions that immigrants and refugees are uniquely and/or disproportionately exposed to that make them more vulnerable to infection and death? How are historic health disparities exacerbated during the pandemic?
Martin, Jeffery. “Trump Blames Dem Immigration Policy for Coronavirus: ‘Border Security Is Also Health Security.’” Newsweek, February 28, 2020. Speaking at a rally in South Carolina, Trump called the Democrats’ immigrant policy “a direct threat” to border security. He conflated the public health issue with border security by saying “we must understand that border security is also healthy security.” (Video of Trump’s announcement at CPAC 2020)
Villarreal, Alexandra. “Trump’s Immigration Policies May Put People at Risk of Coronavirus – Experts.” The Guardian, March 8, 2020. Sanctuary cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles and New York are being subject to immigration raids, with the goal of “arrest[ing] as many undocumented immigrants as possible,” the Guardian reports. Along with the panic and worries caused by the recent ‘public charge’ rule, ICE raids will stop immigrants from seeking healthcare.
Barros, Aline. “Coronavirus Treatment Urged for Immigrants Regardless of Legal Status | Voice of America - English.” Voice of America, March 9, 2020. Reported when around 600 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the US, VOA reports that immigrant groups are calling for the need to seek medical care as the US is on the beginning of a public health crisis. It notes that immigrants are less willing to seek medical care under an immigration-restive administration and uses the example of the ‘public charge’ rule.
Hauslohner, Abigail, Nick Miroff, and Matt Zapotosky. “Coronavirus Could Pose Serious Concern in ICE Jails, Immigration Courts.” Washington Post, March 12, 2020. Advocacy groups, such as ACLU, HRW, and National Association of Immigration Judges, call out CBP and ICE’s inappropriate management of detention facilities and quarantine methods. They are also concerned over immigration court hearings amidst increasing COVID-19 cases. ACLU said, “Without the active engagement of the detention center’s administration, [detainees] have little ability to inform themselves about preventive measures, or to take such measures if they do manage to learn of them.”
Galvan, Astrid, and Nomaan Merchant. “US: Immigrants Can Seek Coronavirus Care without Fear.” Star Tribune, March 13, 2020.T he paper reports on the USCIS announcement that it “will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care” to determine green card eligibility. It also discusses the ‘public charge’ rule and its implication during a pandemic-era.
Hall, Richard. “Coronavirus: ICE Crackdown Stokes Fears for Safety of Undocumented Immigrants during Pandemic.” The Independent, March 13, 2020. The Independent reports that “Democrats in both houses have called on ICE to halt operations at health facilities during the coronavirus outbreak over fears undocumented immigrants could be deterred from seeking medical help. ...The pandemic has coincided with a widespread crackdown by ICE agents in sanctuary cities [such as New York and Boston] across the country.” There are also fears over what happens when noncitizens test positive in detention facilities.
Carcamo, Cindy, Andrea Castillo, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Dolan Maura, Brittny Mejia, and Molly O’Toole. “Coronavirus is turning an overloaded immigration system into a ‘tinderbox.’” Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2020. Immigration judges raise concern over crowded courtrooms and workers are trying to limit potential exposure to COVID-19 despite the lack of personal protection equipment. Considering that the crisis will continue, “immigration judges, attorneys and immigrant-rights advocates, as well as some federal immigration workers, are calling on the federal government to take aggressive steps to slow the spread of the virus and its effect on an already overloaded and backlogged immigration system,” the Times reports.
Jordan, Miriam. “‘We’re Petrified’: Immigrants Afraid to Seek Medical Care for Coronavirus.” The New York Times, March 18, 2020. Immigrant advocacy groups note how COVID-19 has undermined the already precarious positions of immigrant workers, who are concerned about constantly shifting conditions for becoming legal permanent residents, detainees, deportees. They are also worried about becoming sick without access to healthcare, homeless, and such.
Benshoff, Laura. “‘Extraordinary Times’: Advocates Call for Closure of Immigrant Detention Centers for Coronavirus.” WHYY, March 19, 2020. WHYY notes ICE’s statements on protection measures for its own staff, as “measures are not enough to quell concerns about adequate medical care and the close quarters inside.” As for the immigration court proceedings, many stopped this week. However, “those inside ICE detention centers are still happening."
Hernández, César Cuauhtémoc García, and Carlos Moctezuma García. “Close Immigration Prisons Now.” The New York Times, March 19, 2020. Hernández et al. call for the need to close immigration prisons in the face of pandemic: “The coronavirus’s quick transmission and deadly track record is likely to worsen inside immigration prisons. Basic preventive measures are next to impossible. There’s no social distancing because detainees live in cramped spaces. ICE doesn’t even require that the person who oversees medical care be a physician.” (Opinion)
Lanard, Noah. “ICE Is Ignoring Recommendations to Release Immigrant Detainees to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus.” Mother Jones, March 20, 2020. Mother Jones reports that “data released by ICE on Wednesday night shows that the agency is keeping detention numbers high. As of Saturday, ICE had 37,311 people in custody, down only slightly from 37,888 the week before. More than 60 percent of those detainees—22,936 people—do not have criminal convictions. Among the 38 percent of detainees who do have criminal convictions, many have only committed minor offenses like crossing the border without authorization.”
Hadavas, Chloe. “ICE Temporarily Halts Most Immigration Enforcement Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Slate Magazine, March 20, 2020. ICE will stop “most arrests and deportations” and “won’t carry out operations near health care facilities, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, and urgent care facilities,” Slate reports.
Rose, Joel. “Growing Calls To Close Immigration Courts And Release Detainees As Virus Spreads.” NPR, March 21, 2020. NPR reports on an ICE detention center worker tested positive for the coronavirus, which led to “more than 3,000 physicians signed a letter urging ICE to release detainees while their legal cases proceed—particularly adults over 60 and people with serious chronic medical conditions that would put them at higher risk in the event of an outbreak.”
Schacher, Yael. “Coronavirus can't be an excuse to continue President Trump's assault on asylum seekers.” Washington Post, March 21, 2020. Schacher, an immigration historian, discusses the history of refugee laws and urges the Trump administration to “not close the border to asylum seekers in violation of the 1980 Refugee Act” and to “stop forcibly transferring asylum seekers to Mexico and Guatemala after prolonged detention in unsafe and overcrowded U.S. border facilities, which is both a violation of the right to seek asylum and a public health risk — especially with a highly contagious pandemic sweeping the country.” (Opinion)
“For Immigrant Communities, Coronavirus Is A Different Kind Of Threat: Latino USA.” Latino USA. NPR, March 25, 2020. This podcast episode focuses on how staying at home during COVID-19 pandemic is unaffordable for low-income immigrant community members, who are more likely to continue their “essential retail, labor, and service industry jobs” and less likely to have access to healthcare.
Hackman, Michelle. “Rule Barring Immigrants From Social Programs Risks Worsening Coronavirus Spread.” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2020. The Journal reports that the "Trump administration’s immigration policies lead many to not seek medical care, possibly leaving virus undetected.”
Villarreal, Alexandra, and Oliver Laughland. “Detainees in US Immigration Jails Living in Fear as Coronavirus Spreads.” The Guardian, March 29, 2020. There are concerns over COVID-19 related health issues in immigration detention facilities, such as how personal protection equipment and other healthcare resources will be given to American staff first and not detainees. Protests over inappropriate responses to COVID-19 within detention centers are met with “heavy-handed crackdowns”, which includes the use of rubber bullets and chemical agents, the Guardian reports.
Singh, Maanvi. “‘I Have a Broken Heart’: Trump Policy Has Immigrants Backing Away from Healthcare amid Crisis.” The Guardian, March 29, 2020. Despite the USCIS suspending the ‘public charge’ rule due to pressure from immigrant advocacy groups and lawmakers, many immigrants continue to distrust the Trump administration and are unwilling to access public medical services due to fears of being denied a green card or a visa. In California, such restrictive immigration policies impact state-wide preventative healthcare, since there is a high population of first and second generation immigrants.
“COVID-19 and the Displaced: Addressing the Threat of the Novel Coronavirus in Humanitarian Emergencies.” Refugees International, March 30, 2020. The report analyzes per continent the effect of pandemic on the “world’s more than 70 million forcibly displaced people—including refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs, and other forced migrants…[whose] displacement leaves them disadvantaged in many ways”. Refugee International finds 5 factors that increase the vulnerability: population density, lack of access to basic services and reliable information, disruption in the humanitarian supply chain due to outbreak, and redirection of financing and funding.
The Editorial Board. “Coronavirus Doesn’t Care Where You Come From. Trump Still Does.” The New York Times, March 31, 2020. The Times Editorial Board writes a lengthy overview of how the xenophobia and obsession with immigrants are showing through various orders, statues, and laws the Trump administration has passed as part of the COVID-19 battle. There are structural causes of how immigrants are more vulnerable to the pandemic: “They often live in crowded conditions, have little money and no paid sick leave, and so lack the ability to self-quarantine. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 23 percent of noncitizens lawfully in the country and 45 percent of those who are undocumented lack health insurance.” (Opinion)
Samayoa, Monica. “Some Immigrant Groups Struggle To Get Facts About COVID-19.” Here & Now. Oregon Public Broadcasting, April 2, 2020. Due to language barriers, immigrant communities rely on social media to learn on time about COVID-19.
“Protect Immigrant Communities: Fear Mounts of Deadly COVID-19 Outbreak in U.S. Border Camps, ICE Jails.” Democracy Now!, April 3, 2020. This video covers the demands by immigration advocates for ICE to release all detainees, especially as the detention centers in the US and border towns in Mexico become overcrowded due to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. It includes an interview with founder and executive director of Sueños Sin Fronteras de Tejas.
Vinson, Liz. “Detained Immigrants across Deep South Feel like ‘Sitting Ducks’ as ICE Ignores Their Safety amid Global Pandemic.” Southern Poverty Law Center, April 3, 2020. The SPLC reports that COVID-19 has reached immigration detention facilities and that “people held prisoner in remote immigrant prisons throughout the Deep South have become increasingly panicked as they, along with advocates fighting for their release, report that ICE – the agency keeping them locked up – is doing virtually nothing to keep them safe. Whistleblower medical experts for the Department of Homeland Security have even said that immigrant detention centers are inherently unable to protect people from the spread of the virus.”
Navratil, Liz, and Maya Rao. “Minnesota Seeks to Help Immigrant Residents Cope with COVID-19.” Star Tribune, April 3, 2020. Minnesota’s “government agencies, community outreach groups and religious leaders are scrambling to distribute information to more than 100,000 state residents who speak little or no English” as many are unwilling to seek medical assistance “out of fear that it could jeopardize their pathway to citizenship,” the Star Tribune reports. Unfortunately, outreach efforts are limited outside Minneapolis and St. Paul area.
Cooke, Kristina, Mica Rosenberg, and Ryan McNeill. “As Pandemic Rages, U.S. Immigrants Detained in Areas with Few Hospitals.” Reuters, April 3, 2020. Reuters reports that despite the US immigration officials’ plan to “transfer detainees with serious symptoms to hospitals with ‘expertise in high risk care’ in case of a serious breakout, the reality is that most detention centers—located in remote areas away from medical facilities—cannot handle an outbreak.”
Lanard, Noah, and Joaquin Castro. “Immigrants In ICE Detention Face The Threat Of COVID-19.” Latino USA from NPR, April 7, 2020. This 30-minute podcast focuses on ICE detention centers and COVID-19. Lanard, a reporter for Mother Jones, notes how detainees kept track of COVID-19 related safety measures from the CDC and reported that none of the measures are kept. Social distancing is hard, disinfectants and other cleaning supplies are rare, and access to medical staff is impossible except in emergencies. Castro, a Congressman, mentions the reversal of original ICE response on stopping immigration raids and downsizing ICE detainees; stimulus relief for Hispanic Caucus and Puerto Rico; work conditions disproportionately exposing Latino workers to COVID-19.
Mukpo, Ashoka. “‘They Don’t Care If You Die’: Immigrants in ICE Detention Fear the Spread of COVID-19.” American Civil Liberties Union - News & Commentary, April 8, 2020. The ACLU notes the heightened health risk from COVID-19 and pressure on ICE to release detainees at risk. ICE identified 600 as vulnerable to COVID-19 and released 160 as of March 30, 2020. Some detention facilities requiring visiting attorneys to wear N95 masks meant many asylum seekers could not access lawyers.
Cruz, Melissa. “As Coronavirus Fatalities Rise, Trump Sends Immigrant Meatpackers Back to Work.” American Immigration Council, May 1, 2020. Trump’s executive order may help food supply in the country amid the pandemic, but it puts immigrant workers at risk in meatpacking plants, who already suffer from inadequate health care and worker protections.
Police Executive Research Forum. “Police and Immigrants in the Age of the Coronavirus.” Daily COVID-19 Report. Police Executive Research Forum, May 1, 2020. The report focuses on how “immigrants’ reluctance to be involved with police may increase if they fear that public health measures will be used as a pretext for immigration enforcement. So police are reassuring immigrant communities that they are interested only in protecting community health and safety.”
Makhlouf, Medha D., and Jasmine Sandhu. “Immigrants and Interdependence: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes the Folly of the New Public Charge Rule.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, May 2, 2020. Medha and Sandhu write on the public charge rule and the negative impact on the health care system during a global pandemic. “The major effect of the new rule is to chill noncitizens from enrolling in public benefits, including Medicaid, out of fear of negative immigration consequences,” they argue.
Capps, Randy, and Julia Gelatt. “Barriers to COVID-19 Testing and Treatment: Immigrants without Health Coverage in the United States.” Fact Sheets. Migration Policy Institute, May 5, 2020. The organization’s fact sheet looks at the correlations between access to healthcare, unemployment rate, and immigration status.
Oriel, Christina M. “Equipped with Only a Surgical Mask on the Front Lines, Filipina Nurse Dies at Hollywood Area Hospital.” Asian Journal News, May 2, 2020. The News notes that according to its tally, “nurse’s death is now among two dozen Filipino health care workers around the United States who have lost their lives in the fight against COVID-19.” It notes the difficulty of having adequate personal protection equipment in the frontline.
Gallardo, Adriana, and Ariel Goodman. “Los New Yorkers: Essential and Underprotected in the Pandemic’s Epicenter.” ProPublica, May 2, 2020. ProPublica interviews around twenty four Latino immigrants in New York about their experiences of family separation, work, survival, and deaths under COVID-19 pandemic. Scared to seek medical care, undocumented workers are forced to weigh impossible choices: working to survive or staying home to protect their health.
Wilson, Jason. “Food Banks Struggle to Keep Pace with Immigrant Communities Hit Hard by Pandemic.” The Guardian, May 4, 2020. The Guardian reports that “distribution centers in Texas are seeing 100% increase in need and report they are ‘going to run out of food in a couple of weeks’” and quotes food security researcher’s opinion that “Texas’s deteriorating food security has been exacerbated by the hard line immigration policies of the Trump administration.”
Arzuaga, Bonnie. “We Must Protect Expectant Mothers in Immigrant Detention Centers, Now More Than Ever.” Ms. Magazine, May 4, 2020. Arzuaga, a neonatologist, examines how systems of incarcerations have a particularly negative impact on pregnant women and their newborns. This opinion piece looks at how immigration policy exemptions for pregnant women and children are routinely ignored and disregarded. On top of the “massive increase in pregnant women in ICE detention…the number of miscarriages while in detention nearly doubled during the first two years of Trump’s presidency alone.” During the current pandemic, CDC’s health recommendations are not followed by ICE—no social distancing, unsanitary housing, lack of masks and soaps, mass quarantine with little effect. (Opinion)
Romero, Dennis. “First Coronavirus Death in U.S. Immigration Detention Reported.” NBC News, May 6, 2020. Contractor-run detention centers have higher cases of COVID-10 cases amongst detainees and employees; multiple legal challenges against ICE so detainees are released to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Merchant, Nomaan. “Advocates Warn of More Immigrant Deaths without ICE Action.” ABC News, May 7, 2020. ABC News reports, “Lawyers and immigrant advocates are warning that more people will die of the coronavirus in U.S. immigration custody unless the Trump administration improves conditions and release more detainees…following the first confirmed virus-related death of a detainee [Carlos Ernesto Escobar].” The overwhelming concern is the lack of ICE’s capacity to provide preventative safety measures or medical treatment based on CDC regulation is likely to cause a catastrophe soon.
Jordan, Miriam, and Richard A. Oppel Jr. “For Latinos and Covid-19, Doctors Are Seeing an ‘Alarming’ Disparity.” The New York Times, May 7, 2020. The Times looks at how Latinos are overexposed to COVID-19. In terms of the risk-factors that the Latinos face, they are “the same factors that have put minorities at risk across the country [such as] low-paying service jobs that require them to work through the pandemic [and] lack [of] access to health care, which contributes to higher rates of diabetes and other conditions that can worsen infections.” The Times also notes the differences between states based on economic stability: “The disparities are bigger in states like Oregon, Washington and Utah that have newer and less-established Latino communities, compared with states like California, Arizona and New Mexico.”
Migration Policy Institute. “As Millions Are Pushed from Jobs amid Pandemic, the Loss of Employer Health Coverage & Limited Access to Public Coverage for Many Immigrants Hold Major Implications for Them – and U.S. Overall.” Migration Policy Press Release, May 7, 2020. The Migration Policy Institute focuses on how the negative impact of COVID-19 is more pronounced amongst immigrants because they “disproportionately worked, pre-pandemic, in the types of businesses (retail, food service and hospitality, for example) that were hit first and hardest as government officials issued orders closing non-essential businesses and/or requiring residents to stay at home.”
Yang, Stephanie. “New York’s Chinatown Businesses Struggle to Survive Coronavirus Shutdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2020. New York’s ban on dining and anti-Chinese xenophobia has dealt the neighborhood a double blow.
The coronavirus pandemic is hitting black and brown Americans especially hard on all fronts, CNN, May 9, 2020. Though the available data paint a grim picture, the numbers are incomplete. Much of the state and federal data on COVID-19 cases and deaths are preliminary, while race and ethnicity information isn't even available for tens of thousands of cases. Advocacy groups have called on the federal government to release more detailed numbers, and experts and community leaders fear that the reality may be even worse.
Romero, Simon, and Jack Healy. “Tribal Nations Face Most Severe Crisis in Decades as the Coronavirus Closes Casinos.” The New York Times, May 11, 2020. The Times reports on the job loss created by closure of 500 tribal casinos.
Narea, Nicole. “Trump is continuing deportations during the pandemic. It's causing the coronavirus to spread.” Vox, May 12, 2020. The US has suspended most of its immigration processes but has continued to charter deportation flights. Some deportees have carried COVID-19 to Central America and the Caribbean where health care systems are already fragile and testing capacity is lacking. “In Guatemala, these deportees account for roughly 19 percent of the country’s total coronavirus cases,” Vox reports.
Hollenbach, David. “Who Suffers Most during the Coronavirus Pandemic?” America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture, May 13, 2020. Hollenbach looks at the regional distribution of extreme poverty and displacement and the potentially disastrous effect of COVID-19. He emphasizes the history of Catholic social justice movements and seeks global humanitarian relief organizations that can intervene in the current crisis. (Opinion)
Rao, Maya. “COVID-19 Poses Special Challenges for Immigrants in the Country Illegally and Their Families.” Star Tribune, May 13, 2020. The Star Tribune covers the irony of undocumented immigrants paying taxes and working in critical sectors, while not being covered by various public assistance programs. In Minnesota, such residents are estimated to be 90,000. There are legislative attempts to address this gap in government assistance, but they are unlikely to pass.
Joseph, Paniel E. “On Tracking the Racial Disparities in Covid-19 Death Rates.” Literary Hub, May 14, 2020. This is a summary of a Keen On podcast episode on how COVID-19 reveals structural inequalities in the US, such as racism and xenophobia that affect how people are responding to the various state-level COVID-19 responses.
Tordesillas, Rosalind. “Little Manila’s ‘Meal to Heal’ Effort Brings Food to Filipino Health Workers.” Public Radio International, May 15, 2020. This news podcast covers the large proportion of Filipino and Filipino American health workers in the US and the resulting disproportionately high risk that the Filipino American communities confront in New York. The World also discuss the colonial ties between the Philippines and NYC starting from the 1900s through an interview with Professor Kevin Nadal.
Soloff, Andalusia Knoll. “In New York City, Indigenous Mexicans Battle Coronavirus amid Language Barriers, Bias.” NBC News, May 16, 2020. NBC reports how language barriers and discrimination are affecting indigenous Mexicans who are immigrants and how COVID-19 related economic impact in the US is causing ripple effects in places that receive remittances.
Varner, Natasha. “Epidemics in American Concentration Camps: From the ‘White Plague’ to COVID-19.” The Abusable Past, May 18, 2020. Varner connects that experiences of Japanese Americans combatting a tuberculosis outbreak in World War Two incarceration camps to the pandemic today. "Sites of incarceration present major threats to detained individuals, and these threats grow exponentially in the face of public health crises," Varner writes. Learning from this history is "a matter of life and death" today.
Gamboa, Suzanne. “Fearing Trump’s Green Card Policy, Families with Immigrants May Opt out of Coronavirus Care.” NBC News, May 18, 2020. NBC News reports on how the public charge rule may impact healthcare during the pandemic. “Families who have at least one member without a green card are fearful of using public benefit programs because of a Trump immigration policy, creating concern they may also avoid publicly available coronavirus testing and treatment,” it reports.
Constante, Agnes. “Asian American COVID-19 Death Rate in San Francisco Concerning, Researchers Say.” NBC News, May 20, 2020. NBC News focuses on the health disparities for Asian Americans. It quotes preliminary findings from Asian American Research Center on Health that states “Asian Americans constituted 13.7 percent of all cases of infections in San Francisco but had the highest proportion of deaths to cases across all racial groups. ...52 percent”.
Silverman, Hollie, Konstantin Toropin, Sara Sidner, and Leslie Perrot. “Navajo Nation Surpasses New York State for the Highest Covid-19 Infection Rate in the US.” CNN, May 18, 2020. CNN reports that “the Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the US—another sign of COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on minority communities.”
Thorbecke, Catherine and Deena Zaru. “Asian Americans face coronavirus 'double whammy': Skyrocketing unemployment and discrimination.” ABC News, May 20, 2020. Chinese-American business owners and employees face xenophobic aggression in NYC that equates Asians with COVID-19, as well as economic challenge. In NY, where there is “the second-largest population of people of Asian descent in the US...saw a 10,210% year-over-year increase of unemployment filings among Asian Americans (51,653 compared to 501 in 2019)—the highest of any racial group—for the week ending April 11.” Apart from lengthy interviews, the article also includes a video coverage of the economic impact of COVID-19.
Navratil, Liz, and Kim Hyatt. “Virus Hits Hard in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood | Star Tribune.” Star Tribune, May 23, 2020. Cedar-Riverside, which has high population density and is predominantly Black, now has at least 150 cases of COVID-19. The Star Tribune notes that “Minneapolis, along with Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago [is among] the four metro areas in the nation where infection rates are persistent or rising.”
Gonzalez, Daniel, and Lauren Villagran. “For-Profit Texas Immigrant Detention Center Faces Major COVID-19 Outbreak.” El Paso Times, May 23, 2020. The El Paso Times reports on the notoriously poor health conditions inside for-profit detention centers. At Bluebonnet Detention Center in rural West Texas, 111 detainees (more than one-quarter of immigrant detainees,) recently tested positive for COVID-19. The article also cites an ACLU study on how “private, for-profit contractors convert[ed] former prisons such as Bluebonnet into immigration detention facilities” as well as lawsuits pending against ICE.
Devereaux, Ryan. “ICE Detainee Who Died of Covid-19 Suffered Horrifying Neglect.” The Intercept, May 24, 2020. This investigative report focuses on the Otay Mesa Detention Center and the death of Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia.
Clark, Maria. “In the Deep South, the COVID-19 pandemic creates unique challenges for immigrant communities.” Tennessean, May 27, 2020. In Southern states, there seems to be a pattern of people avoiding medical treatment due to fear of confrontation with authorities and immigration raids, the paper reports. Other economic and social challenges such as food security, English-only public health information, and such are impacting Hispanic and Latino community. The Tennessean argues that “getting data at the neighborhood level will be an important next step.”
Raff, Jeremy. “How Fear Spreads the Coronavirus.” The Atlantic, May 29, 2020. Taking a look at the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City, the Atlantic explores how COVID-19 and immigration restrictions, from raids to the proposed public charge rule, endanger the health of immigrant community members. According to a federal judge, “basically, the rule right now is: If I’m dying from coronavirus, it’s not used against me, but if I’m dying of cancer, it is used against me.”
Gonzalez, Daniel. “COVID-19 Outbreak at ICE Detention Center in Eloy Has Ballooned into One of the Largest in the Nation.” The Arizona Republic, May 31, 2020. Immigrants detained at the La Palma Correctional Center, which is a former prison run by ICE-contracted for-profit company, are worried over a spike of COVID-19 cases. The Arizona Republic reveals a letter by detainees which states, “In this place, hygiene measures are not taken, we do not receive adequate medical treatment or food, and these factors make us more likely to contract the virus.”
Ortiz, Fernie. “Report: Ongoing Transfer of ICE Detainees Leading to COVID-19 Outbreaks.” BorderReport.Com, June 1, 2020. According to Border Report, “to slow the spread of the coronavirus, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to shuffle and transfer hundreds of detainees. But it has led to outbreaks at facilities.” Democrat senators wrote a letter for “ICE to expand COVID-19 testing at all ICE facilities, including processing centers, privately run facilities, and local jails contracting with ICE.”
Wessler, Seth Freed. “Fear, Illness and Death in ICE Detention: How a Protest Grew on the Inside.” Type Investigations and The New York Times Magazine, June 4, 2020. By covering organized strikes inside detention facilities run by ICE, Wessler shows how scarce the protection against COVID-19 is for the incarcerated across the US. It also discusses the development of detention centers in American history, the rapid changes since 1980, and COVID-19 related risks that the courts are overlooking.
Rachko, Thomas J. “Second Covid-19 Death in US Immigration Detention.” Human Rights Watch, June 4, 2020. The organizations reports the death of Santiago Baten-Oxlaj from Guatemala, who is the second person to die in ICE custody from COVID-19 complications. There is a total of 818 in Ice custody with confirmed cases. Human Rights Watch calls for congress to “demand transparency from ICE and require that it release detailed reports on investigations into these deaths, as well as push ICE to release more people.”
Soboroff, Jacob, and Julia Ainsley. “Migrants Say They Were Forced to Clean COVID-Infected ICE Facility.” NBC News, June 10, 2020. NBC News reports, “Asylum-seeking migrants locked up inside an Arizona Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center with one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases say they were forced to clean the facility and are ‘begging’ for protection from the virus, according to a letter obtained exclusively by NBC News.” It includes a MSNBC video on a facility giving rotten foods and no personal protection equipment.
Arnold, Chris. “Thousands Of Workers Say Their Jobs Are Unsafe As Economy Reopens.” Morning Edition. NPR, June 11, 2020. As the economy reopens, OSHA has received thousands of complaints from workers who fear that their workplaces are unsafe. Labor unions are suing OSHA to get it to issue emergency national mandatory safety requirements.
Montecinos, Claudia. “RELEASE: Data on the Coronavirus Outbreak in Immigration Detention Offer More Questions than Answers.” Center for American Progress, June 16, 2020. Based on an analysis of data related to outbreaks in immigration detentions, Montecinos criticizes ICE’s COVID-19 testing data discrepancy and the “federal government’s ongoing failure to protect the health and safety of detained people, facility staff and their family members, and communities at large because of ICE’s lack of transparency when sharing its numbers on testing in detention centers.”
Amnesty International. “As COVID-19 Risk Continues, Immigrant Rights Groups Increase Actions Calling for Release from Detention to Protect Immigrants.” Amnesty International USA, June 20, 2020. Referencing the “systemic racism, over-policing, and unlawful police killings of Black people,” the organization focuses on how the US immigration system “harms and punishes Black and brown immigrants disproportionately.” It criticizes the federal authorities for being complicit in spreading COVID-19 and endangering public health.
Carrasco, Luis. “Essay: He Fled the Gangs. But Can He Escape the Deadly ‘petri Dish’ of COVID-19?” Houston Chronicle, June 26, 2020. Carrasco criticizes the “needless risk” ICE exposes the detainees inside immigration detention centers to by continuously transferring people around and not following CDC standards. (Opinion)
Bosque, Melissa del and Isabel Macdonald. “Exporting the Virus: How Trump’s Deportation Flights Are Putting Latin America and the Caribbean at Risk.” The Intercept, June 26, 2020. A report revealing how the U.S. has sent more than 350 deportation flights to Latin America and the Caribbean since February, resulting in devastating public health risks in the region.
CNN Wire. “Immigrant Detainees Describe Deteriorating Conditions as Coronavirus Spreads in ICE Facilities.” KTLA, June 27, 2020. Conditions have worsened at a Virginia detention facility, as people with coronavirus symptoms are detained within. According to KTLA, “fears and desperation among detainees over the pandemic have given way to protests. Advocacy groups say hunger strikes have been on the rise since concerns about Covid-19 surged.”
Russell, Kiley. “Anti-Immigrant Policies Intensify COVID-19 Impact on Vulnerable Communities.” KTVU. June 27, 2020. KTVU criticizes the federal government for “still failing to extend protections to the nation's vulnerable immigrant communities” and people of color. The article also discusses the problems with the COVID-19 Cares Act relief package and the proposed second “Heroes Act” relief act, as well as the public charge rule.
Kuo, Dennis, Noelle Smart, Zachary Lawrence, and Adam Garcia. “The Hidden Curve: Estimating the Spread of COVID-19 among People in ICE Detention.” The Vera Institute of Justice, June 29, 2020. The social-justice driven Vera Institute of Justice issued a new report using an epidemiological model to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 in detention.
Brigida, Anna-Catherine, Acacia Coronado, and Emily Kinskey. “Between Borders: From a doctor stranded in Ciudad Juárez to a shelter closed after an outbreak, COVID-19 is hitting hard along the Texas-Mexico border.” The Texas Observer, June 30, 2020. Based on reporting from Juárez, Matamoros, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, this story examines the plight of tens of thousands of “increasingly desperate desperate asylum-seekers and other migrants [who] remain stalled in the system as reported cases of COVID-19 grow in Mexican shelters, U.S. detention centers, and border states surrounding them.” The story is part of a Pulitzer Center-supported series on the impact of COVID-19 on immigrants along the detention to deportation pipeline.
Salamanca, Jean-Paul. “Latino Advocates Say COVID-19 Stats Don’t Include Immigrants Who Avoid Tests, Die at Home.” Newsday, July 1, 2020. Using the video interview with Cheryl Keshner, a senior paralegal and community advocate, Newsday reports how “Latino advocates are worried that the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on immigrants on Long Island is greater than what state statistics reveal because of their reluctance to seek hospital care due to fear of deportation, medical costs and other concerns.”
Hofschneider, Anita. “COVID-19 Disparities For Pacific Islanders Worsen Nationally.” Honolulu Civil Beat, July 1, 2020. Honolulu Civil Beat reports that “Pacific Islanders continue to face high rates of COVID-19 across multiple states, and in some areas the disparities are worsening.” It includes an interactive Story Map titled “COVID-19 and Indigenous Pacific Peoples in America” that focus on the health disparities faced by Pacific Islanders across the US.
Sesin, Carmen. “COVID-19 Cases among Immigrant Detainees Could Be 15 Times Higher than ICE Reports, Study Says.” NBC News, July 1, 2020. NBC News uses the Vera Institute of Justice’s projections to report that ICE “could be severely underreporting the number of COVID-19 infections in detention centers.” Because of current ICE practice of transferring detainees around different locations, the number is likely to be 15 times higher.
Snow, Anita. “Latino, Black Neighborhoods Struggle with Test Disparities.” AP News, July 6, 2020. Access to COVID-19 testing is rare in Arizona and Florida’s low-income neighborhoods, Black and Latino communities, and immigrant communities. AP notes that in the US, “most chain pharmacies and urgent care clinics offering tests are found” in middle class areas—this exposes and exacerbates existing health disparities.
Rodrigues-Sherley, Marcela. “Immigrant Detention During COVID-19: ‘Total Disregard for People Inside.’” Ms. Magazine, July 9, 2020. The conditions inside private company-owned immigration detention centers are continuously deteriorating due to a lack of personal protection equipment and other resources. Immigration attorneys and advocates are frustrated with the time and resources spent to prove to the federal government that these facilities pose extremely high risk to detainees and the larger public.
Kassie, Emily, and Barbara Marcolini. “How ICE Exported the Coronavirus.” Marshall Project, July 13, 2020. This report illustrates how unsafe conditions and insufficient testing helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to spread the virus in the US and abroad—and how the Trump administration pressured countries to take in sick deportees.
Rosenberg, Mica. “Nearly 1,000 US Immigration Detention Center Workers Test Positive for Coronavirus.” Huffington Post, July 14, 2020. Executives of companies that are contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to run private immigrant detention facilities testified before Congress. They admitted that more than 930 employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Drake, Kayla. “Language Barriers Hinder Spanish-Speaking Immigrants From Getting Coronavirus Tests.” St. Louis Public Radio, July 14, 2020. Non-English speaking immigrants in St. Louis have faced hurdles, such as automated phone recordings in English and complex health care systems, in their attempts to access COVID-19 information. Now, more hospitals and clinics provide Spanish-language translations, and some do not require social security numbers or identification cards.
Loera-Brust, Antonio De. “As the U.S. Exports Coronavirus, Trump Is Blaming Mexicans.” Foreign Policy, July 14, 2020. Loera-Brust criticizes President Trump and other Republicans, such as Alex Azar and Ron DeSantis, for using xenophobia against Mexicans and Latinos to cover up the president's mishandling of COVID-19 pandemic. He also notes the “long history of blaming ‘dirty’ Mexicans for spreading disease” in the 20th century. (Opinion)
Morris, Mike, Olivia P. Tallet, and Stephanie Lamm. “COVID Is Hitting Houston Hispanics Hard - and It’s Getting Worse.” Houston Chronicle, July 16, 2020. Infections of Hispanic residents are rapidly outpacing other ethnic groups.
Vega, Priscella. “Ventura County Sees Increase in Number of Positive Coronavirus Cases among Farmworkers.” Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2020. The LA Times reports that “farmworkers account for 7% of the nearly 5,000 positive coronavirus cases in Ventura County after an outbreak at a farmworkers housing complex.” With hospitals at full capacity, government departments and organizations are now issuing 1 million masks and COVID-19 symptoms info flyers. There is also a partnership with a Mixtec language radio program to reach growing numbers of indigenous Mexican migrants.
Sohn, Rebecca. “Without a trace: This California county has stopped contact tracing as coronavirus surges.” Cal Matters, July 16, 2020. Contract tracing is supposed to help prevent infection, but as Cal Matters reports, efforts can backfire with undocumented immigrants when contact tracers send law enforcement to the homes of individuals who may have been exposed, but who cannot be reached by tracers.
Lin, Summer. “US Senator — without Data — Says NC Hispanics Get COVID More Due to Not Wearing Masks.” The News & Observer, July 16, 2020. The News & Observer analyzes racialized health disparities in the US, with a focus on occupational exposure to COVID-19 and socioeconomic status. The article criticizes Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) for attributing the high percentage of Hispanic Latinx testing positive to non-compliance with mask wearing and social distancing.
Rosenberg, Mica, Kristina Cooke, and Reade Levinson. “U.S. Immigration Officials Spread Coronavirus with Detainee Transfers.” Reuters, July 17, 2020. A detailed Reuters review of ICE data, attained through court records, shows how detainee transfers between ICE detention centers after hundreds of detainees testing positive for COVID-19 led to super-spreading events.
Spagat, Elliot. “How the Coronavirus Spread through One Immigration Facility.” AP News, July 19, 2020. An investigation into the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego reveals how it became the site of a big outbreak in ICE’s 221 detention centers. Many shortcomings in how the private company that manages the center handled the spread of the disease are examined.
Gomez, Melissa. “Many Latino Workers Fear Getting Tested for COVID-19. A San Francisco Program Aims to Change That.” Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2020. A San Francisco program created culturally-sensitive solutions to combat the high infection rates among Latinos.
Alvarez, Priscilla, and Geneva Sands. “Judge Rejects Plea to Release Immigrant Families in Detention Due to Covid-19.” CNN, July 23, 2020. Advocates called for the release of all detainees due to heightened health risks from COVID-19 pandemic, and Judge James Boasberg in the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against their blanket release. However, the ruling stated that entire families need to be released, not just children.
Il, Rong-gong Lin, Sean Greene, and Priscella Vega. “Coronavirus Is Killing More Californians than Ever before, and Cruel Inequities Are Worsening.” Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2020. An extensive report on how Californians of color, especially Latinx residents, are far more likely to become infected or die from the coronavirus. The most recent surge in cases exacerbates those inequities. The article also notes the health impact of COVID-19 on farmworkers and healthcare workers.
Kavalakatt, Rachel. “‘A History of Racist Policies and Practices’: Coronavirus Reveals Racial Disparities in Healthcare.” The Stanford Daily, July 25, 2020. While race-based data on the public health impact from the COVID-19 are incomplete, researchers write that the pandemic has “unearthed existing racial disparities in healthcare, with Black and Hispanic populations disproportionately affected and making up approximately 60% of all COVID-19 cases and over 50% of deaths in California.” The causes for this disparity include: higher rates of existing conditions, difficulty of accessing preventative measures due to lower social economic status, occupational exposure, and other historic policies of exclusion.
Narea, Nicole. “The Trump Administration’s Choice for Immigrant Families in Detention: Separate or Risk Covid-19.” Vox, July 29, 2020. Vox explores how family separations are more rare simply because the asylum system has shut down during COVID-19 pandemic. It also notes the health risks of staying in immigration detention centers, and the limitation of the July 27 order by District Judge Dolly Gee.
Dooling, Shannon. “New Survey Shows The Pandemic’s Toll On Immigrant Households Throughout Mass.” WBUR from NPR, July 31, 2020. A recent survey quantifies food and housing insecurity and job loss in Massachusetts’s immigrant families.