COVID-19 Has No Borders


Shivering, malnourished immigrants huddled in cage-like detention centers after being separated from their families. Pens divided by metal fencing are their only physical separation from their loved ones and worse, from a deadly disease. Sharing five bars of soap with more than seventy detainees, limited or no hand sanitizer, and never being nearly five feet away from anyone in the midst of a global pandemic is yet another catastrophe in this crisis. 

Fear and anxiety is spreading through the multitude of immigrant detention centers and border camps as COVID-19 continues its lethal destruction in the U.S. Cuban immigrant Gretchen Romero, who is being held in a South Louisiana ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Processing Center, says “It’s horrifying to see such indifference inside the facility.” (Gomez)  Romero is one of the 34,000 detainees in the ICE facilities throughout the country that is failing to meet social distancing standards and is putting all the detainees at high risk of contracting the disease. A similar situation and solution has been reached within the federal prisons, yet the numbers of released detainees as a safety precaution have been startling low. Detainees aren’t the only vulnerable susceptors to the pandemic, the ICE officials who are constantly around and patrolling the thousands of detainees in the facilities are at an equally high risk. There has been such a lack of testing at the detention centers that numerous lawsuits have joined in on the defense for the unprotected immigrants. Although there are currently many holes and trouble spots in the lawsuit processes, some could lead “to the release of about 1,350 members of migrant families” (Gomez). This could be a much needed release after justice departments across the country have been witnesses to the harsh living conditions amidst the virus in the centers. 

Multiple suits have alleged to dangerously close quarters between 500-800 men, women, and children that don’t meet hygiene standards. One complaint alleged that “families in [detention centers] are scared and concerned for their lives” (Hsu). The fear of the disease is consuming immigrants enough for them to plead for their release and the lack of human compassion shown to these desperate people in such a time of crisis needs quick amendment. The world is living in unprecedented times, but kindness and empathy are needed now more than ever. Although we may be stuck in our houses with our families, that is more than many other people can say. The shocking stories of detainees is a reminder to be grateful even through tough times and to constantly be aware of those who truly need support during this pandemic. 


Gomez, Alan, et al. “’Terrified of Dying’: Immigrants Beg to Be Released from Immigration Detention as Coronavirus Spreads.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Apr. 2020,

Hsu, Spencer S. “Judge Widens Order, Urging ICE to Release Migrant Families with..” Washington Post, 31 Mar 2020.