- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Immigration-rights advocates expressed outrage Wednesday after a news report that a migrant being detained by ICE in California has died from COVID-19, saying they’d warned the agency to release more people to reduce the risks.

A reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune said on Twitter she had confirmed the death of a migrant at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

Though hundreds of migrants had tested positive for the disease, the death would be the first for someone in ICE custody.

“This heartbreaking tragedy could have been prevented,” said Dr. Ranit Mishori with Physicians for Human Rights. “The government cannot say it did not know this would happen.”

Amnesty International USA also chimed in: “Families, community neighbors, and activists have been calling for the release of all people from immigration detention, but this administration has continuously refused to listen,” said Amnesty researcher Denise Bell.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which had yet to comment Wednesday afternoon, had been under pressure to cut its detention population to try to limit the chances that a high-risk detainee might contract the disease.

Judges across the country have ordered hundreds of releases, and ICE itself has released others, moving to reduce populations and create more space for detainees.

But ICE had opposed calls for mass releases.

A federal judge had ordered ICE last week to review the detainees at the Otay Mesa facility to see what steps needed to be taken. Union-Tribune reporter Kate Morrissey report that the facility, which houses both immigration detainees and federal Justice Department detainees, was facing an outbreak with more than 100 ICE detainees testing positive.

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