*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Immigrant Rights Advocates Tried to Donate Protective Masks to the Otay Mesa Detention Center—they Were Turned Away at the Gates

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic is hitting communities throughout the country. The California Department of Public Health has confirmed 43,464 cases of COVID-19 in the state as of April 28th. While everyone is at risk of respiratory disease, the situation is especially dire in places where true social distancing is impossible, such as in immigration detention centers. 

Even more alarming is that concerns have been raised about the lack of protective gear within these facilities. To help address the problem, a group of immigrant rights activists brought more than 1,000 masks to the Otay Mesa Detention Center. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that their donation was denied and they were turned away at the gates of the San Diego-based facility. 

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Blocked from Donating Masks to Protect Detainees

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democratic representative of San Diego, arrived at the facility on the morning of April 25th. Notably, the Otay Mesa Detention Center is located within the bounds of her district. Working together with several local immigrant rights groups, she brought more than 1,000 medically-approved face masks to donate to the detainees. Distressingly, the donation was refused by the facility. This took place despite the fact that major concerns have been raised about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) in these facilities. 

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Otay Mesa facility—which is operated under a contract held by a private company (CoreCivic)—has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases of any immigration detention center in the entire country. At least 111 people within the facility had already tested positive for respiratory disease. For her part, Assemblywoman Gonzalez plans to keep trying to donate the much needed masks. As an immigration rights advocate told reporters, “This is ICE and CoreCivic’s responsibility, and they are failing.”

Your Options If Your Vulnerable Loved One is Being Detained

While COVID-19 poses a risk to all people, older adults and immunocompromised people are at extreme risk—for these people, exposure to the coronavirus could even be deadly. If your vulnerable loved one is being held in an immigration detention facility, please know that there are options available. An experienced immigration attorney can help you explore every path to secure their release. In some cases, emergency humanitarian parole may be warranted. Through humanitarian parole, vulnerable detainees can be released to help protect their safety. 

Call Our LA Immigration Lawyer for Confidential, Fully Remote Initial Consultation

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Los Angeles immigration bond lawyer is a skilled and compassionate advocate for clients. If your friend or family member is being held by ICE, CBP, or DHS, we are available to help. Our law firm is fully operational during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are following all of the health and safety protocols from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health. Call us now at (213) 262-2000 for a completely confidential, no-commitment initial consultation.

Josh Goldstein
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