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Watchdog report finds ICE facility did not use proper COVID-19 precautions

"The facility is at risk of another outbreak if LPCC does not ensure detainees wear facial coverings and practice social distancing," the watchdog reports.

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ICE officer in L.A.
ICE officer in L.A.
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Updated: April 5, 2021 - 2:47pm

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The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General has found an ICE facility in Arizona last year did not use proper COVID-19 precautions, which may have led to an outbreak.

During unannounced inspections of the ICE detainment facility in La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., the inspectors found facility did not enforce ICE's COVID-19 precautions including facial coverings and proper social distancing.

The office concluded the lapses might have led to a COVID-19 outbreak in the facility.

The report, released on March 30, states inspections were conducted from August 2020 to November 2020.

Detainees were supposed to have been given two reusable and washable masks. However, upon inspection, many detainees complained to the inspectors that they either received one or no mask. The detainees were also seen together in close proximity without proper masks.

The report also warned that the facility is at risk of another outbreak if it does not ensure detainees wear facial coverings and practice social distancing.

The inspection also found that medical facilities in the detention center were "critically understaffed" and failed to provide timely care to detainees, with some waiting as long as 22 days for a response to a request for medical treatment.

Inspectors also found that Immigration Customs Enforcement failed to give detainees proper contact with deportation officers, saying the agency posts its schedule telephone consultations in the detainee housing units but didn't list the hours of operation.

The OIG recommended that the facility require a proper mask and social distancing guidelines from its detainees and better access to hand soap and other hygiene necessities such as to laundry and haircuts.

The ICE facility responded by saying it "will continue to encourage social distancing to detainees through education, communication, and encouragement rather than through a punitive, disciplinary process."

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