FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Ana Maria Rosato [email protected]
ATLANTA – Today, the ACLU of Georgia sent Public Records Act requests to Stewart and Folkston Counties that contract with ICE as part of a larger demand that detention facilities immediately provide COVID-19 vaccine boosters to the more than 21,000 people held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers nationwide.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE detention centers have been among the most dangerous places in the United States. The Public Records Act requests seek information regarding the provision of COVID-19 booster shots to people in the Stewart and Folkston County detention centers contracted with ICE and any updated contract language regarding requirements that staff of federal contractors be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Infection rates in ICE detention facilities nationwide are 20 times higher than in the general public, with almost 32,000 people in detention testing positive to date.
As of July 1, 2021, Georgia facilities had 1200 covid cases, and Stewart has surpassed 1000 cases most in the nation. Infection rates in ICE detention facilities nationwide are 20 times higher than in the general public, with almost 32,000 people in detention testing positive to date.
In July, WABE reported that public records showed Georgia Department of Public has investigated COVID concerns at Folkston ICE Processing Center four times since April 2020 and one investigation at Stewart. In September, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Stewart Detention Center had more than 1,000 cases. Only five centers had more cases than Stewart.
The ACLU of Georgia’s request seeks the following information:
facility policies regarding the provision of COVID-19 booster shots to detained people;
records regarding the number of detained people who have been vaccinated, including with booster doses, for COVID-19;
all contracts in force at area detention facilities, including contract updates that incorporate requirements for staff vaccinations against COVID-19; and
policies, memoranda, and communications with detention facility staff regarding any requirements for COVID-19 vaccination.
“It appears that ICE has no plan for detention facilities to provide booster shots to all who need them, or provide people with education on the importance of booster doses,” said Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project. “This is yet another example of ICE’s cavalier approach to the health and safety of people in detention, in violation of their constitutional rights, and underscores the inherent danger of detention in the first place.”
ICE has relied heavily on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which has the lowest rate of efficacy of all available vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine receive a booster within two months; and those who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine receive a booster within six months.