Coronavirus and America’s Immigrant Detention Crisis

Violeta Chapin

Executive Summary

Today, tens of thousands of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are at risk of contracting the coronavirus because of the current punitive immigration enforcement regime in the United States. Amidst the calls for “self-isolation,” thousands of immigrants are herded into detention facilities, which, for all intents and purposes, are prisons, where we know that the risk of infection is great. The solution to this crisis is simple: release people from detention and stop detaining people in the first place. But will the United States government rise to the call?

In a poll of likely voters, we found bipartisan support for this strategy:

  • Fifty-nine percent of voters, including 53% of Republicans, would support an Executive Order instructing immigration enforcement to suspend new detentions of non-citizens;
  • Fifty-one percent of voters support limiting the detention of newly arrived immigrants and refugees who are awaiting a hearing;
  •  Fifty-six percent of voters support releasing elderly people from immigration detention
Coronavirus and America’s Immigrant Detention Crisis
Coronavirus and America’s Immigrant Detention Crisis