Immigrants are in the same boat with the rest of us in this pandemic. The administration doesn’t care.

As the global pandemic ramps up, few of us would imagine that our government would unnecessarily expose people to the novel coronavirsus. Yet the Trump administration has repeatedly shown it is willing to do just that to immigrant communities in the United States.

By far, the most egregious example are detention centers. Across the country, the Department of Homeland Security operates 137 of these facilities where many immigrant men and women are incarcerated simply because they overstayed a visa or need to file more paperwork. Many have no charge against them at all but are being held after appearing at the border to request asylum, as is their lawful right. They are now in jail even though they played by the rules. Most of those being held are accused of no criminal behavior and pose no threat to public safety.

It is as if they are the unwitting victims of a cruel experiment by DHS: Gather up a group of immigrants fleeing violence in their home countries. Jail them even when they have no criminal records. Hold them together in close proximity while a lethal pandemic ravages the nation. Give them no masks or protective equipment. Provide them with no advice on how to protect themselves. And then see what happens.

In other words, DHS is knowingly and needlessly exposing these people to severe and even deadly risks. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees DHS detention centers, did not respond to requests for comment.

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J. Larry Brown