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ICE Does Not Test All Deportees for Coronavirus, Agency Head Says

ICE only tests a 'subset' of deportees and asks the rest about symptoms despite the fact that COVID-19 is often asymptomatic

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ICE told a Senate Panel on Tuesday that it does not routinely test detained immigrants for COVID-19 before transferring them to detention centers or deporting them to other countries. Henry Lucero, the executive associate director of ICE’s removal and enforcement unit told the Senate Judiciary Committee that ICE never knowingly sent a sick immigrant abroad. “We are aware of reports that after they are returned to their home countries, that some countries have tested individuals that were positive. But there were no known positives that were removed actively with COVID-19,” Lucero said in response to a question posed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The agency does not test everyone it deports for COVID-19, but instead runs a “removal checklist” that includes questions about symptoms and taking deportees’ temperatures. They test just a “subset” of people regardless of symptoms before removal. Lucero also added that the U.S. has entered bilateral agreements with some countries to test all deportees. “But it is not standard procedure, from what you have said, unless there is this agreement with another country, to test a person before we deport them from the United States to determine whether they are infected with COVID-19?” Durbin asked. “Today that’s accurate, yes sir,” Lucero replied. 

In other Washington, D.C. immigration news…

The United States has sent multiple COVID-19 positive Guatemalans back to that country, angering the government there. Of the nearly 2,800 detainees tested for COVID-19 as of May 31, more than 750 tested positive, according to ICE. Two individuals, one detained in Georgia and one in California, have died of the virus. ICE has reduced its capacity to 44 percent in facilities with dedicated housing for ICE detainees and less than 75 percent across facilities where immigrants are held. Law360 

Immigrants who are at risk of being tortured if they’re returned to their home countries can challenge deportations in federal appeals courts, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. In a 7-2 decision, the court rejected the Trump administration’s argument that foreigners tagged for deportation have no right to judicial review if their request for relief under the international Convention Against Torture is denied. This decision will allow immigrants who’ve been convicted of a crime to make factual challenges in court when the Board of Immigration Appeals decides they do not qualify for deportation protection under CAT. The HillWhile CBP was deploying its agents across the country to assist local law enforcement in quelling protests and riots, acting chief of the agency Mark Morgan sent out an agency wide email to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots. This comes one day after he tweeted that the protests are “anything but peaceful.” “To the violent rioters, you are not representing justice — you are committing crimes like arson, assault, looting & destruction of property,” Morgan wrote. The Nation

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