Immigrant rights group and Microsoft workers blast ICE raids amid coronavirus crisis: 'The way ICE is operating is reckless'
- An immigrant rights group is calling on ICE to stop hunting down undocumented immigrants amid the coronavirus crisis.
- Mijente said the agency has waged a cruel campaign that poses risks to undocumented immigrants detained at facilities where they face new health risks.
- Mijente's call was supported by a group of Microsoft workers who also backed the group's campaign, calling on tech companies not to share their technologies with ICE.
- "They're putting people's lives in danger, and they should be stopped," Mijente organizer Jacinta Gonzalez told Business Insider. "And if Trump won't stop them, then the tech companies that are facilitating their work and facilitating their targeting of immigrant communities should do everything they can to make sure that ICE and have access to their tools."
- ICE, for its part, made temporary adjustments to operations starting Wednesday, saying it "will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate."
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An activist group blasted US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for continuing to hunt down undocumented immigrants even as the nation reels from the spread of the coronavirus.
Mijente said Thursday that the federal agency is waging a cruel and dangerous campaign at a time when immigrant communities throughout the US are bracing themselves for a public health crisis.
"We think that the way that ICE is operating is reckless," Mijente senior campaign organizer Jacinta Gonzalez told Business Insider.
Mijente cited a number of what it called "horrific operations" over the past week, including the arrest of a 56-year-old man in Los Angeles as he was buying food for his family and another man who was arrested in Pennsylvania as he was leaving a hospital emergency room.
Mijente also said a couple was arrested in Denver and taken to a facility where 10 people were under quarantine.
"They're putting people's lives in danger, and they should be stopped," Gonzalez said. "And if Trump won't stop them, then the tech companies that are facilitating their work and facilitating their targeting of immigrant communities should do everything they can to make sure that ICE and have access to their tools."
Mijente has been campaigning to convince major tech companies, including Microsoft, Amazon and Palantir, not to share their technologies with ICE, saying these tools have been used to hunt down undocumented immigrants. Amazon, Palantir and Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.
Microsoft workers rally in support
But Mijente's call for an end to raids against undocumented immigrants got the support of a group of Microsoft workers.
"ICE's horrendous behavior may seem like it's out of our hands," a group called MSWorkers For Good said in a statement. "But they're using our company's technology - the software that we've built - to do so. Because of this, we have an opportunity and an obligation to speak out."
ICE said it has made temporary adjustments to operations starting Wednesday, saying it "will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate."
"Consistent with its sensitive locations policy, during the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors' offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances," ICE said in a statement. "Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement."
But Gonzalez suggested the policy is vague and uses "the same language ICE has used before justify their operations."
Undocumented immigrants who are detained could face serious health risks as the coronavirus continues to spread, she said.
"Most detention centers don't have soap and water," she said. "The conditions inside are horrendous. Folks do not have adequate medical assistance. Folks are in crowded rooms. So it's not only about social distancing. There has been such an erosion of conditions in detention centers under the Trump administration. And already these conditions were very bad."
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