San Bernadino, CA
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak at the Adelanto Detention Center. To date, 53 positive cases have been reported, 20 of which have medical conditions. Three hundred and four tests have been carried out, 34 of which have been negative. Also, nine people have been hospitalized, but no further details have been provided.
It is reported that some detainees receive new masks every two weeks, others one a week and some three new masks a week every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. GEO Group, the private prison company who runs the center in Adelanto, has not instructed detainees to wear masks in their units, with the exception of visiting time or in court.
The outbreak is happening as ICE is disinfecting the facility with a chemical that harms human health. According to an Earthjustice report, Adelanto detainees have reported that HDQ Neutral disinfectant is sprayed inside the facility every 15 to 30 minutes. According to the report, people detained at ICE facilities remain in custody for 55 days on average. HDQ neutral contains chemical components that can damage human DNA. HDQ Neutral also causes blistering and redness when it contacts the skin. Inhalation can cause nasal discomfort, cough, and damage to the mucous membranes in the respiratory system.
José Ricardo Viveros Rodríguez, one of the detainees in Adelanto, shared this testimony:
“I am 62 years old, I suffer from heart and cholesterol problems, I am diabetic, and I have a pacemaker. I suffer from nosebleeds, headaches, eye and throat irritation because they are still spraying chemicals in our units; they are going to kill us here. In our unit there is a person who is 72 years old.”
Rodriguez added: “There is another detainee in our unit who is 55 years old, suffers from a hernia, and is diabetic. Please tell the world what is happening here.”
Since the start of the quarantine, the coalition has called for the release of all immigrants detained in Adelanto. Cruel, inhuman, and tortuous conditions have increased, and testimonies from confined immigrants continue to worry families and advocates.
The blatant disregard for the lives of the immigrants confined in the Adelanto Detention Center can only be described as torture, as well as inhumane and violent. Immigrants detained in these facilities are subjected to cruel punishments and inhumane treatment for the simple fact of trying to migrate. Detention centers are a hotbed of deadly infections; More than 5,000 people in ICE custody have tested positive for COVID-19 since February and 19 people have died in fiscal year 2020, making it the deadliest year in history of detention centers. Thousands of medical professionals and advocates have sounded the alarm and demanded the release of all detained immigrants.
These abuses, coupled with allegations of forced hysterectomies on migrant women detained in Georgia, as well as the separation and imprisonment of migrant children in the last few years, are warning signs of genocide. The second article of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide establishes that: “In this Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intention of destroying, totally or partially, a national, ethnic, group, racial or religious, as such: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to group members; (c) deliberately inflicting similar conditions on the group calculated to cause its total or partial physical destruction; (d) impose measures designed to prevent births within the group; (e) forcibly transfer the children of the group to another group.”
Furthermore, lawyers have been denied access to confidential calls with their clients in locked bedrooms, while GEO staff refuse to provide information on which bedrooms are blocked, how many people are affected and what is being done to protect them.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 23, the San Bernardino sheriff’s department arrested two people during a vigil in front of the detention center. A sheriff used a stun gun on a woman among those arrested. Her bonds were set at a high sum.
The #ShutDownAdelanto Coalition calls for the immediate and full release of all individuals currently being held at the Adelanto Detention Center, and urges Congress to cut funding for ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to redirect those vital resources to support public health efforts in our communities.
The #ShutDownAdelanto Coalition is made up of: Inland Empire Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, Freedom for Immigration, Earthjustice, Detention Watch Network, Never Again Action – Los Angeles, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, and Nikkei Progressives, among others.