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President Trump Tweets That He’ll Suspend Immigration. What Does That Even Mean?

Protesters drive in a caravan around an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center to demand the release of detainees due to safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Protesters drive in a caravan around an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center to demand the release of detainees due to safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

President Trump says he’ll sign an executive order to “temporarily suspend” immigration into the United States.  

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020

The president has restricted immigration before, but this order — in the midst of a pandemic —  is unprecedented.

And some medical experts warn that if COVID-19 gains a foothold in any Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, the results could be catastrophic. But in some places, it already has.

As of now,  at least 100 detainees have COVID-19. 

Reporter Hamed Aleaziz recently s poke with Mariela, an older detainee in ICE custody.

“I am very afraid of getting the virus. That’s my life,” she said. “This shouldn’t exist at all — detaining people who are more than 60 years old. I came to the US with a visa. This is an injustice. I cry every night, every day. I feel helpless. I don’t know what’s going on.”

On a COVID-19-specific page, ICE says “detainees are being tested for COVID-19 in line with CDC guidance” and “comprehensive protocols are in place for the protection of staff and patients, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), in accordance with CDC guidance.”

How is ICE conducting immigration enforcement during this pandemic? And what are conditions like inside its detention facilities?

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