It’s been more than two months since medical experts for the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Scott Allen and Dr. Josiah Rich, submitted a letter to Congress warning that conditions in ICE detention facilities across the United States present great risks to the safety and health of detainees due to the spread of COVID-19. They recommended the immediate release of all immigration detainees who do not pose a problem for public safety. More than 4,000 physicians echoed this call in an open letter to Matthew T. Albence, acting director of ICE.
Some reduction of the immigrant detainee population has occurred, but that is only because of high pressure from advocacy groups and litigation by civil rights and immigrant attorneys. The government itself has done nothing proactively to protect immigrant detainees (and the county inmates and state prisoners with whom they share detention quarters). In March, there were 38,058 immigrant detainees held around the country; as of April 25, that number has gone down to 29,675. This is not enough! The release of immigrants from detention is not keeping pace with the potential spread of the coronavirus. According to ICE, there have been 881 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections out of 1,736 immigrant detainees tested so far. https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus
In this webinar, we will discuss the current conditions in ICE detention facilities, focusing on four county jails in Ohio that have contracts with ICE: Butler, Geauga, Morrow, and Seneca. Detention conditions can considerably enhance the vulnerability of immigrant detainees contracting COVID-19: overcrowding, frequent transfers of detainees, and limited access to hygiene products and medical services. We will explore what action steps have been taken (e.g., ongoing litigation) and what steps need to be taken to release the remaining tens of thousands from immigrant detention across the US. What urgent forms of advocacy would you like to pursue to pressure ICE? We welcome your ideas and your participation. Please join us.
About Alexandra Magearu:
Read this lyrical essay about her experience as a court monitor at the immigration court in Cleveland. It just came out in World Literature Today: https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/blog/cultural-cross-sections/docket-alexandra-magearu
Alexandra Magearu is a writer, editor, and literary scholar, who sometimes experiments with visual art. She was born in a small town in Romania, lived in Bucharest during her teen years, and moved to the United States in her early twenties for a graduate program. She earned a PhD in Comparative Literature with an Emphasis in Feminist Studies from UC Santa Barbara. Now in Cleveland, Alexandra is immersed in the literary scene, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), and immigration activism.
Alexandra’s writing has been published in The Comparatist, Tint Journal, World Literature Today, on the Global Cleveland website, and in two philosophy book collections, Ecosophical Aesthetics: Art, Ethics and Ecology with Guattari and Phenomenology of the Broken Body. She was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women's Studies for her literary scholarship.
Alexandra is currently working on a book of essays about immigration in the United States and a novel set in Bucharest in the days preceding the 1989 Romanian revolution.