Editor’s note: When it comes to immigration — illegal or otherwise — the American people have a right to be concerned. Each week, Liberty Nation author Kelli Ballard examines a contentious issue related to today’s hottest topic.
Americans everywhere are feeling the effects of the Coronavirus. After President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, state lawmakers took advantage of their powers and began shutting down businesses from dog grooming to restaurants and bars. The attitude toward open borders has flip-flopped, as the virus spreads across the nation. Now, however, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Washington state demands certain illegal immigrants be released from a detention center because they are at risk of contracting the disease.
The ACLU, along with the ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), filed a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 16, trying to force it to release certain illegal immigrants at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center near Seattle who are considered at high risk for COVID-19.
A senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project said, “Immigrant detention centers are institutions that uniquely heighten the danger of disease transmission. In normal circumstances, ICE has proven time and again that it is unable to protect the health and safety of detained people.”
Referencing the fast spread of the disease through nursing homes, such as the one in Kirkland, the locus of the outbreak in Washington, the organizations say it is too dangerous to keep the immigrants cooped up in close proximity where they cannot practice self-isolation. However, it would be fair to point out that said nursing home came under fire and was fined last year for lack of safe practices in disease prevention. Also, on March 13, ICE said that there has not been a single confirmed case of COVID-19 among about 38,000 immigrants currently in custody.
The lawsuit names nine people at the Tacoma facility who are at high risk and warns that 50 to 100 more people also could meet that criteria. Nothing is said, though, about where these illegal immigrants will go once released. Will they be tested first to make sure they do not have the virus before being set loose? Do they have family members to provide them food and shelter? Will they be required to return once the threat of COVID-19 is over, or will they get free entry into the United States?
Detention centers might be considered somewhat of a quarantine site, as people are vetted as they await being processed. In a few states, including Washington, local governments have seized control of motels and hotels to set up as housing stations for those infected with COVID-19 or who are likely to contract the disease. While ICE has not had a confirmed case of the virus, the ACLU demands illegal aliens be set free; migrant rights groups in the United Kingdom cry out for the same thing. In a similar vein, to help stop the spread of the virus, advocates in the United States are asking for the release of prisoners.
What does this mean for the general public? Each day the world looks more and more like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. Instead of freeing prisoners, wouldn’t separating inmates be a better solution? With people ready to fight each other over a package of toilet paper in a grocery store, the idea of throwing convicted criminals and illegal immigrants into the mix sounds like a recipe for heightened mayhem and disaster.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.