Policy Recommendation

Halt ICE Raids, Detentions and Deportations

Policy field

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University of California-Berkeley

This memo is part of Beyond Flattening the Curve, a series of policy recommendations for the COVID-19 crisis.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continue to carry out raids on immigrant communities during the pandemic — and use N95 medical masks, already in short supply for healthcare workers, to protect themselves from COVID-19. The continuation of ICE raids at the direction of the federal government is putting our country at risk, worsening a critical shortage of medical supplies, and leading to overcrowded detention facilities and unnecessary travel that facilitate the further spread of COVID-19. At this historic moment, the federal government must set its priorities straight. If we want to survive as individuals and as a country, the federal government must stop ICE raids, detention and deportation, and they must provide protective equipment to frontline workers in our health system.

First, these raids sow distrust in public health recommendations and orders that are so important in this time of uncertainty. Second, these raids, far from essential for survival, run directly counter to public health recommendations (including from the federal government itself) and direct orders from local and state governments to practice physical distancing and to shelter in place. Specifically, such raids lead to increased detention in overcrowded conditions ideal for the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, any deportations resulting from such raids force unnecessary separation of families and travel. All of these actions aid the spread of this virus, threatening to overwhelm our health system and worsen the pandemic for everyone. Third, the use of protective medical masks for ICE officers worsens the shortage, putting doctors, nurses and other health professionals at risk. That frontline health professionals are caring for patients without this basic protective equipment, forced to risk not only their own health but also the capacity of our health system, suggests that the federal government prioritizes the punishment of undocumented people over the safety of patients and frontline health workers. The US federal government must stop ICE raids, family separations, detentions and deportations for the health of immigrant communities and for the health of all.