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Group calls for ICE facility to be closed down

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ELOY, Ariz. (KVOA) - Local and national organizations are calling for La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona to be shut down after 366 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at the facility.

The 366 confirmed cases are the highest in the nation among ICE jails, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, which is why groups like Trans Queer Pueblo want the center shut down.

They're not the only group calling for action, Planned Parenthood, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, The Florence Project and Advocacy of Arizona are just a few of the organizations trying to make a difference.

"The way we see it, ICE has no desire to take care of the people in their care. This is the way it's always been this is the way it's always gonna be," said Stephanie Figgins, Media and Culture Shift Coordinator for Trans Queer Pueblo.

Letters from detained migrants explain the situation as unlivable. Migrants say they were punished with isolation for reporting sexual harassment.

Others say they were punished by being put into isolation with active COVID-19 cases for reporting injustices to the center.

"Do Core Civic guards help them? No. Instead, they get put into solitary confinement which is a form of psychological and physical torture," said Figgins.

Trans Queer Pueblo, alongside other groups, is calling for the center to be closed and for all people in ICA detention centers in Arizona to be freed.

"We don't want actually, to oppress people in a better way, we just need to shut the system down," said Figgins.

UPDATE: Amanda Gilchrist, the Director of Public Affairs for CoreCivic, who manages La Palma Correctional Center responded to News Four Tucson with the following statement:

"As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever, particularly when dealing with essential government services, to accurately report the facts on the ground. We're strongly encouraging reporters to vet their sources and validate their allegations with the same high standards with which we're providing responsive information.

COVID-19 has created extraordinary challenges for every detention system in America – public and private. Since even before any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our facilities, including La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC), we have rigorously followed the guidance of local, state and federal health authorities, as well as our government partners. We have responded to this unprecedented situation appropriately, thoroughly and with care for the safety and well-being of those entrusted to us and our communities. It's important to note that there are no active cases of COVID-19 among our staff or detainees; all previous cases are now considered recovered.

Any claims being made by detainees indicating that they "are not given adequate cleaning supplies to sanitize areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that at least nine detainees have committed suicide due to the conditions" are patently false.

In the normal course of operation, individuals at LPCC are provided with facility-approved soap and EPA-registered sanitation supplies to clean their immediate living areas on a daily basis, free of charge. In response to COVID-19, they are provided access to extra cleaning supplies and disinfectant chemicals to clean their living areas. Each pod has a cleaning closet with mops, brooms, towels, and cleaning and EPA registered disinfecting supplies such as HDQC2 and Halt. Spray bottles containing these chemicals are available and can be refilled as needed from jugs kept in the cleaning closets.

There have been no intentional deaths at LPCC since the onset of the pandemic. Any self-harm incident would be reported to our government partner, so we encourage you to verify our stance on this matter with ICE."

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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