While North Carolina does not have any sanctuary cities, it does have sanctuary counties, and Orange County is one of them. This leaves room for concern that the Triangle area, which is experiencing a growing number of coronavirus cases, could be a potential target for ICE operations.
Cramming people into detention centers presents an obvious health concern. One person has already tested positive for COVID-19 in an ICE detention facility. On top of this, in 2019 the Department of Homeland Security reported that medical care at ICE detention facilities was "inadequate."
Worse still, visitation to ICE detention centers has been prohibited in order to protect against the spread of the virus, but its agents are still patrolling in an effort to fill them up.
If you don’t think that the presence of ICE agents in your area should concern you, you might want to think again.
These agents are vectors who could spread coronavirus, which raises a public health threat that should concern us all. Most importantly, though, if the agency’s request for masks is approved, there will be 45,000 less masks available for those who are risking their lives to save coronavirus patients.
This move would jeopardize everyone's health — undocumented and documented alike — and send the message that our federal government would rather protect those who are threatening public health in order to deport folks than supply masks for the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who are risking their lives to treat COVID-19 patients.
ICE has said that it will slow down enforcement in light of the present crisis. However, as with social distancing and quarantine measures, a partial reduction is not enough. ICE must immediately cease all surveillance and policing activity.
In a time where resources are growing more scarce by the day, we need to prioritize supplying healthcare systems, not detention agencies.
Regardless of your stance on undocumented immigration, ICE’s decision to obtain thousands of masks means that thousands of healthcare providers will go without proper protection. And when time inevitably comes that you or someone you know needs treatment for COVID-19, who would you rather have the mask?