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Coronavirus cases continue to rise at Arizona's immigration detention centers

Coronavirus cases continue to rise at Arizona's immigration detention centers

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

Cases more than doubled at detention facilities across the country

ICE reported 18 cases of the coronavirus among detainees at the La Palma Correctional Facility in Eloy, above, and 10 cases at the Florence Detention Center in Florence.

Federal officials reported 28 confirmed cases of the coronavirus at immigration detention centers in Arizona.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported 18 cases of the coronavirus among detainees at La Palma Correctional Facility in Eloy and 10 cases at the Florence Detention Center, according to statistics released Friday. ICE reported the first case among detainees in Arizona on April 1.

Across the country, ICE reported 317 cases among immigration detainees at 29 detention centers, up from 124 cases a week earlier. The first case was reported at a detention center in New Jersey on March 24.

An ICE employee at the Florence Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19, one of 35 ICE employees at detention centers nationwide who tested positive.

Another 89 ICE employees, who are not assigned to detention centers, tested positive. ICE did not say where they work.

The concern that the coronavirus could spread quickly among detainees living in confined spaces led to lawsuits by immigrant advocates. Many of those lawsuits are ongoing, including one asking for the release of eight detainees in Arizona. Federal judges in several states have ordered the release of some medically vulnerable detainees.

In recent weeks, ICE has released about 700 detainees who are elderly or pregnant.

Both ICE and Customs and Border Protection are sending fewer immigrants to detention centers, ICE records show.

The number of ICE detainees dropped from about 37,000 several weeks ago to about 30,700 as of April 18.

ICE facilities in Arizona hold about 3,000 detainees. An exact number of detainees was not available, according to ICE’s public affairs office.

Contact reporter Curt Prendergast at 573-4224 or cprendergast@tucson.com or on Twitter @CurtTucsonStar

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