Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, ICE Detainees Say They’re Facing Unsanitary And Cramped Conditions

Two detainees spoke to Houston Public Media about what they say was poor medical care, minimal protective equipment and unsanitary and crowded dorms.

By Elizabeth TrovallMay 14, 2020 11:24 am, , , , ,

From Houston Public Media:

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly inside immigrant detention centers across Texas. Immigration officials maintain they’re providing medical screenings, testing and personal protective equipment.

But inside the Joe Corley Processing Center in Conroe, two detainees that spoke with Houston Public Media outline inhumane conditions, including poor medical care, minimal protective equipment and unsanitary and crowded dorms.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed 32 COVID-19 cases among detainees at Joe Corley as of Wednesday, more than any other facility in the Houston area. GeoGroup has also confirmed eight facility staff have also tested positive.

Denied PPE, Disinfectant And Clean Blankets 

Authorities transferred Israel Rodriguez, 31, to the Joe Corley facility in Conroe in mid-March. He said medical care in Conroe is worse than the ICE facility he was transferred from in California.

“We’ve asked for gloves for our own safety, those have been denied utterly,” he said. “We’ve asked for disinfectant. They said ‘no’, they just refused completely.”

For protection against COVID-19, they’ve been given one mask they’ve had to reuse for at least two weeks, he said.

“They’re not giving us proper chemicals to wash the dorms. We have to use the shampoo they’ve given us for personal use to clean the doors,” said another detainee, who asked to go by Muhammad, to avoid retaliation from guards.

“And the virus is spreading very fast to the other dorms,” he said. “Eventually it’s going to get to the dorm I’m in.”

Muhammad has been detained at Joe Corley for more than a year and said conditions are  unsanitary.

“Our blankets have not been changed for three months,” he said, “and before that it was eight months.”

In a written statement, ICE denied this claim saying: “Allegations that detainees at the Joe Corley Processing Center in Conroe, Texas, are being denied cleaning or personal hygiene supplies and that bedding is not being changed for weeks or months are patently false.”

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