Chicago, IL In response to the news of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Pulaski County Detention Center, community organizers with Organized Communities Against Deportations offered the following statement.
"It was only a matter of time for COVID-19 to enter Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) detentions in Illinois. Yesterday, we learned of 3 confirmed cases of the Pulaski Detention Center in Southern Illinois. We call on Sheriff Randy Kern, the Illinois Department of Health and Governor J.B. Pritzker and Midwest ICE Field Director, to use their power and prevent another tragedy at Pulaski Correctional Center before it is too late.
Sheriff Randy Kern has the ability to stop the spread by refusing new bookings of people in ICE custody and requesting the release of all 143 people under ICE's watch at the Pulaski County Jail. The Governor and Director of Health Department have the responsibility to address this new outbreak using the same guidelines Illinoisans have been subjected to since last month. County jails and detention centers throughout the state are not immune to the virus and they should not be immune to the state-wide public health response.
For weeks, we have learned about the deplorable conditions at Cook County Jail and Stateville Correctional Center and the rapid spread of the virus at these facilities. Community organizations have been consistent in the demands to release people from detention centers, jails and prisons. Over the years, many groups including OCAD have laid out the overwhelming evidence of ICE's flawed medical care and how the agency has proven time and time again to be incapable of caring for people in its care.
Now, we are seeing COVID-19 spread rapidly across the state and we must recognize the system of mass incarceration and detention makes social distancing impossible and the fact that most basic measures of sanitization are not met for people in jails and detention centers. Midwest ICE Field Director Robert Guadian should use his discretion and release people now our collective public health depends on it."
Organized Communities Against Deportations ( OCAD ) is an undocumented-led group that fights deportations and criminalization of Black, Brown, and immigrant communities in Chicago and surrounding areas. Find out more at www.organizedcommunities.org .
From a press release