El Paso official urges ICE to release detainees to shelters to prevent more COVID-19 cases

Border Report
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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — As the number of detained migrants diagnosed with COVID-19 climbs, one El Paso County official is offering to mediate so federal agencies release others to local shelters before they get infected.

“We’ve had meetings with ICE and CBP and continue to advocate that they look at interagency transfers of detainees, which seems to be where the spread of the virus inside the facilities has resulted from,” said Precinct 2 County Commissioner David Stout.

Stout said he’s proposed that both agencies — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — that instead of keeping detained migrants locked up together they route them to shelters run by private aid organizations.

“We have asked them to coordinate releases with Annunciation House as well as coordinating heavily with local governments and agencies to make sure the necessary resources are ready,” Stout said at Monday’s Commissioners Court meeting.

El Paso County Commissioner David Stout (top right) discusses his efforts to offer federal immigration agencies help in reducing COVID-19 contagion among detainees. (photo taken from El Paso County web site)

His concerns stem from the spread of COVID-19 at the centers in El Paso County and Otero County, N.M. According to Stout, as of May 14, ICE had reported that 36 detainees in Otero County and 10 in El Paso County, plus one employee, had become infected.

The office of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday reported 39 new cases of COVID-19 between the Doña Ana County and the Otero County Prison Facility.

In Doña Ana County, there are 15 new cases, while the 24 cases at the Otero prison are made up of three federal prisoners and 21 New Mexico State Corrections prisoners, the governor said in a news release.

The entire state of New Mexico has had 6,096 cases and five new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 270.

El Paso County last reported 1,772 cases and 47 deaths.

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