Following Pressure from Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto, DHS Agrees to Undertake a Full Review to Protect Detainees from COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) will conduct a review of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This development comes following a request from Senators Rosen, Cortez Masto, and Senate colleagues that the DHS IG conduct a full assessment of ICE detention facilities nationwide to evaluate whether their facilities’ operations, management, standards, and conditions are properly addressing the threat of COVID-19.

“We are glad to see that the DHS Inspector General has agreed to review the steps ICE is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus at its facilities and to protect the health of those they are detaining,” said the Senators. “We expect a serious and thorough investigation into the safety steps that DHS and ICE are undertaking during the coronavirus pandemic prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at ICE facilities.”

BACKGROUND: Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto sent their initial letter in response to reports that ICE detention facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were operating without processes to protect both staff and detainees such as providing protective gear, ensuring detainees have access to hygiene products, and practicing social distancing.