From Texas Public Radio:
Detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center in the Rio Grande Valley have been concerned about a potential COVID-19 outbreak at the facility for months, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities across the country.
Immigrant rights activists have called for large-scale releases and said detention facilities are either hotspots or hotspots waiting to happen — not just for the immigrants, but also for detention center employees and the families and communities they come home to.
At the Port Isabel Detention Center some detainees are on a hunger strike to protest the conditions they said make an outbreak inevitable.
The detainees said some employees at the facility don’t wear proper protective equipment when interacting with them, and that it’s hard to practice social distancing because they live in close quarters.
“The coronavirus is here at the facility,” said a Cuban detainee at the facility who TPR spoke with over the phone. “We are on a hunger strike. Me and another Cuban.”
He said he and the other detainee started a hunger strike at the end of May, but they were brought to El Poso — The Hole — which is essentially solitary confinement.
“They sent us here for participating in the hunger strike and to discourage others from joining,” he said.