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4 El Paso ICE detainees test positive for COVID-19

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Four detainees at an El Paso immigrant detention center have tested positive for COVID-19, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement reported Monday afternoon.

The El Paso cases were among 220 reported nationwide among ICE detainees. That includes one detainee at ICE’s Otero County Processing Center who tested positive earlier this month. ICE hasn’t reported any COVID-19 cases among detention center employees in the El Paso area, but that report doesn’t include contractors who work in ICE facilities.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar had tweeted about the El Paso cases a few minutes before ICE updated its website showing infections among detainees.

ICE “must quickly act to test all immigrants and agents who come in contact with these individuals and release nonviolent detainees to save lives now,” Escobar said.

ICE did not provide any other information on the El Paso detainees and their conditions. for a request for comment. The agency had its first confirmed case at its El Paso detention facility last week but waited almost four full days before publicly acknowledging an infection.

An El Paso immigration attorney had said earlier Monday that some of his clients had reported testing positive for COVID-19.

“Two of my clients called me this morning and said that they tested positive for COVID-19. They say a third client of mine also tested positive and that there are several others who learned the same,” attorney Antonio Williams said.

ICE had not updated its list of detainee infections since Friday evening.

“There is now officially an outbreak of COVID-19 at the El Paso Processing Center and they are not self-reporting,” Williams said.

He said his three clients were tested because they slept nearest the woman who tested positive on Thursday.

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. He spent most of his career at the El Paso Times, serving in a variety of leadership roles. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including Pulitzer Prize finalist, the Burl Osborne award for editorial leadership, the James Madison Award from the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, the Jack Douglas Award from Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership from the Texas Press Association. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Association. As a freelance journalist, Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on the border by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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