A federal immigration detainee held at the Bristol County House of Correction has tested positive for COVID-19, according to advocates. This is the first reported positive case of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainee from any of the state's three county jails housing ICE detainees.
Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, reports the organization was notified in accordance with the ongoing class action suit against Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and ICE.
"It confirms the urgent need for continued humanitarian release of immigrants through safe alternatives to detention so immigrants can quarantine and shelter at home," Espinoza-Madrigal said. "This infection — following positive COVID-19 tests for at least six guards and nurses at the facility — confirms that detention conditions remain unconstitutionally unsafe and life-threatening for all immigrants held at Bristol County.”
The positive test result follows a physical altercation among ICE detainees and Bristol County correctional officers Friday evening that turned violent, sending three ICE detainees to the hospital. Hodgson says 10 detainees refused to be tested for COVID-19 after reporting symptoms. A special operations team as well as a K-9 unit were deployed, according to the sheriff. A "flash-bang" grenade containing tear gas was also used on the detainees.
Attorneys representing the detainees in the class action suit, as well as those representing detainees privately, say the 10 men did not want to be relocated to the main building for the tests and requested they be tested in the ICE unit to limit cross contamination.
Advocates and members of the state's Congressional delegation are calling for further investigation into the incident.