Sen. Elizabeth Warren and several Democratic colleagues want immigration detention facilities to track and publicly report data about COVID-19 cases.
Warren, along with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, filed the bill, called the COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act, Wednesday in both chambers of Congress.
The bill would require Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement — and any facilities that contract with those agencies — to collect and submit COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a weekly basis. That data would then be published publicly.
"We are facing a crisis unlike anything in our lifetimes — and it is hitting vulnerable members of our communities the hardest, including those in detention facilities," Warren said in a statement. "Many detained people are at the mercy of the facilities in which they’re held. That is why we need to mandate these reporting standards."
The immigration agencies would also have to report to Congress on the protocols and practices in place related to COVID-19, and outline the health and medical care standards at each facility. They'd also be required to report on detainees access to legal counsel and ensure that individuals have access to their medical records and testing information in a language they prefer.
Other bill co-sponsors from Massachusetts include Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Jim McGovern.
In April, a federal judge in Boston ordered Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson to submit regular reports on COVID-19 testing of ICE detainees held in the Dartmouth facility.
U.S. District Court Judge William Young also ordered the release of dozens of ICE detainees from Bristol County correctional facilities on a rolling basis. That lawsuit followed concerns from ICE detainees about overcrowding and the inability to practice national the recommended physical distancing during the pandemic.
Federal immigration detainees have also alleged assault and retaliation by Bristol County Sheriff's Office staff. Attorney General Maura Healey's office is currently investigating a violent altercation in May between detainees and sheriff's office staff that resulted in three ICE detainees being sent to the hospital.
With reporting from WBUR's Shannon Dooling.
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