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Tue May 12, 2020, 11:55 AM

ICE in the Age of COVID-19

A year ago, around the time an ICE agent showed up at his mother’s home in Queens looking for him, Edwin had a union job working with sheet metal, and a wife and two kids. “My brother calls me, and he’s crying,” Edwin, who has a thick New York accent, recalls. “He’s like, ‘Damn, bro, this is for you.’ ” The officer left his business card at the house, and Edwin, who says he wanted to do the right thing for his family, made arrangements to turn himself in. Thirteen months later he was still in custody at the Hudson County Correctional Center in New Jersey, waiting for a chance to plead his deportation case, when the pandemic began.

“I remember watching Fox 5. It started off with two people in ­Jersey City, and in a matter of two weeks, it went to 158 people,” he says. “We knew this was getting serious. And when they canceled every contact visit, we knew it was getting out of hand.”

At the time, Edwin was sleeping in an open dorm he shared with 56 other ICE detainees. “There’s barely soap, there’s barely toilet tissue, there’s barely any type of cleaning materials. If there’s hand sanitizer, the hand sanitizer is for the correction officers,” Edwin told Rolling Stone in March. (Hudson County jail did not respond to requests for comment.)

Earlier that month, he says, a fellow ICE detainee abruptly disappeared from his dorm. A few days later he was back, saying he’d been tested for the coronavirus and briefly isolated. Then the man was gone again, released without explanation. “We’re like, ‘Hold on, the coronavirus is in here?’ ” Edwin recalls. “ ‘Why isn’t everybody getting tested? We’ve been interacting with this person.’ ”


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