ELIZABETH, N.J. — Representatives for the Immigrant Defense Project said Tuesday that at least five people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and at least five employees of the facility are confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19.
The detainees are currently being held at the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey. The IDP said that an ICE Health Services Corps employee who worked at the Elizabeth facility died earlier in November, having tested positive for the coronavirus at his time of death. Another IHSC employee and four employees of the company that operates the facility are also positive.
As a result, the entire facility — currently imprisoning 128 people — is now under quarantine. The Marshall Project reported that the Elizabeth Detention Center was the first ICE facility in the country to see an employee test positive for COVID-19.
The Immigration Defense Project has been among the groups calling for the government to free those imprisoned at the EDC.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlights what we have already known for years: Core Civic and ICE are neglectful of people’s needs, and conditions inside are dangerous and inhumane,” said Banan Abdelrahman, #FreeEDC Campaign Coordinator at American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program. “We should be heeding the call of the people inside, and their loved ones outside and responsibly shut down the facility. We need to act now to mitigate what could potentially lead to many deaths as more and more people inside of EDC continue to get sick due to COVID-19 and beyond.”
In July, it was reported that the landlord of the building has been looking to terminate its contract with CoreCivic, the company operating and profiting off the facility. The facility has been questioned over its living conditions in the past.