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The US is facing a humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of people are held in detention centers under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Practices undertaken by ICE, such as detainment, deportation, and searches, adversely affect the physical and mental health of those who are undocumented.1 Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities have been characterized as unsanitary, unsafe, and inhumane by a recent whistleblower.2 Home to moldy, uncleaned bathrooms and limited personal hygiene supplies and medical services, facilities pose health risks to people even beyond the context of a global pandemic.3 Human rights advocates have called for the release of people detained and the suspension of deportation flights.4 Thus far, ongoing deportation flights have led to documented spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in more than 11 countries.5 Herein, we describe the COVID-19 burden among people detained by ICE compared with the US population.
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Accepted for Publication: December 1, 2020.
Published: January 19, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.34409
Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2021 Casanova FO et al. JAMA Network Open.
Corresponding Author: Kathryn M. Nowotny, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Miami, 5202 University Dr, Merrick Bldg Rm 120, Coral Gables, FL 33146 (email@example.com).
Author Contributions: Mss Casanova and Hamblett contributed equally as authors. Drs Brinkley-Rubinstein and Nowotny had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: All authors.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: All authors.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Casanova, Brinkley-Rubinstein, Nowotny.
Statistical analysis: Nowotny.
Obtained funding: Brinkley-Rubinstein.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Casanova, Brinkley-Rubinstein.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: This study was supported by a grant from the Langeloth Foundation (the COVID Prison Project) and grant R25DA037190 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse–funded Criminal Justice Research Training Program (Drs Nowotny and Brinkley-Rubinstein).
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Langeloth Foundation or National Institutes of Health.
Additional Contributions: Chris Corsi, BA, Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, served as project coordinator and was compensated for his contributions to this work. The COVID Prison Project team provided ongoing support with data collection and management.
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