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ICE Guidance on COVID-19

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Introduction

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal, state, and local agencies to facilitate a speedy, whole-of-government response in confronting Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), keeping everyone safe, and helping detect and slow the spread of the virus. To keep the public, media and family members of those in custody and other stakeholders informed, we will update this site frequently during this extremely fluid situation.

Latest Statement

A 33-year-old Dominican national in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, New Jersey and a 45 year-old Guatemalan national in ICE custody at the at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona have tested positive for COVID-19. Consistent with CDC guidelines, those who have come in contact with the individual have been cohorted and are being monitored for symptoms.

March 30, 2020 Statment

A 40-year-old Salvadoran national in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at the Bergen County Jail and a 22-year-old Salvadoran national in ICE custody at the Hudson County Correctional Center have tested positive for COVID-19. Consistent with CDC guidelines, those who have come in contact with the individuals have been cohorted and are being monitored for symptoms.

GENERAL

What is ICE doing to safeguard its employees/personnel during this crisis?

The ICE Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Unit continues to work diligently to ensure employees are operating under the safest and most practical conditions to reduce the risk of exposure and prevent further spreading of COVID-19 during the course of ongoing daily operations. The OSH Unit regularly provides guidance regarding integrating administrative controls such as social distancing in law enforcement settings, and the appropriate choice and use of personal protective equipment when administrative controls cannot be implemented. Besides providing information through an employee website, OSH officials have held conference calls, responded to emails, and spoken personally with employees who have safety questions. At all levels, ICE employees have access to the most current CDC and DHS guidance and assistance in this rapidly changing environment.

ICE is reviewing CDC guidance daily and will continue to update protocols to remain consistent with CDC guidance.

Updated 03/18/2020 4:28pm

What is ICE doing in response to the COVID-19 virus?

Law enforcement agencies across the country, to include ICE, are paying close attention to this pandemic. While our law enforcement officers and agents continue daily enforcement operations to make criminal and civil arrests, prioritizing individuals who threaten our national security and public safety, we remain committed to the health and safety of our employees and the general public. It is important for the public to know that ICE does not conduct operations at medical facilities, except under extraordinary circumstances. ICE policy directs our officers to avoid making arrests at sensitive locations – to include schools, places of worship, and health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities – without prior approval for an exemption, or in exigent circumstances. See our FAQ for more.

Consistent with federal partners, ICE is taking important steps to further safeguard those in our care. As a precautionary measure, ICE has temporarily suspended social visitation in all detention facilities.

The health, welfare and safety of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees is one of the agency’s highest priorities. Since the onset of reports of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), ICE epidemiologists have been tracking the outbreak, regularly updating infection prevention and control protocols, and issuing guidance to ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) staff for the screening and management of potential exposure among detainees.

ICE continues to incorporate CDC’s COVID-19 guidance, which is built upon the already established infectious disease monitoring and management protocols currently in use by the agency. In addition, ICE is actively working with state and local health partners to determine if any detainee requires additional testing or monitoring to combat the spread of the virus.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

CONFIRMED CASES

DETAINEES
6

There are 6 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among those in ICE custody*.

  • 2 detainee in Bergen County Jail (Hackensack, NJ)
  • 1 detainee in Essex County Correctional Facility (Newark, NJ)
  • 2 detainee in Hudson County Jail (Kearny, NJ)
  • 1 detainee La Palma Correctional Facility (Eloy, AZ)

*Some detainees may no longer be in ICE custody.

Updated 03/30/2020 4:55pm

DETENTION FACILITY EMPLOYEES & PERSONNEL
5

There are 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among ICE employees and personnel working in ICE detention facilities.

  • 2 ICE personnel in Aurora Contract Detention Facility (Aurora, CO)
  • 1 ICE personnel in Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility (Elizabeth, NJ)
  • 1 ICE personnel in Houston Contract Detention Facility (Houston, TX)
  • 2 ICE personnel in Hudson County Jail (Kearny, NJ)

Updated 03/27/2020 4:36pm

ICE EMPLOYEES
44

There are 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among ICE employees not assigned to detention facilities.

Updated 03/30/2020 2:56pm

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT and CHECK-INS

I have a scheduled check-in, what should I do?

Individuals should contact their local field office for additional guidance prior to their scheduled appointment.

Updated 03/17/2020 5:00pm

Has ICE modified enforcement efforts during COVID-19?

To ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will temporarily adjust its enforcement posture beginning today, March 18, 2020. ICE's highest priorities are to promote life-saving and public-safety activities.

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will focus enforcement on public-safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or user alternatives to detention, as appropriate.

Homeland Security Investigations will continue to carry out mission critical criminal investigations and enforcement operations as determined necessary to maintain public-safety and national security. Examples include investigations into child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and continued participation on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. This work will be conducted based on ability to coordinate and work with prosecutors from the Department of Justice and intake at both the U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Prisons.

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. Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.

Updated 03/18/2020 7:45pm

Is ICE making arrests at hospitals?

ICE does not conduct enforcement operations at medical facilities, except under extraordinary circumstances. Claims to the contrary are false and create unnecessary fear within communities. Individuals should continue to seek medical care.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

Has ICE revised the process for filing the Form I-246, "Application for Stay of Deportation of Removal?"

ICE will temporarily permit the filing of Form I-246, "Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal," through the mail accompanied by money orders, certified funds, or requests for fee waivers only.

Updated 03/18/2020 5:18pm

Has ICE revised the timeline for aliens to report for their initial check-in with a local field office?

Aliens released from the Southwest Border will now be scheduled for initial reporting to a local field office 60 days after release, versus the current practice of scheduling such reporting in 30 days or less. Individuals should contact their local field office for additional guidance prior to their scheduled appointment.

Updated 03/18/2020 10:39am

BONDS

I need to pay a bond, has ICE made any adjustments to its payment process?

ICE will limit the acceptance of bonds to locations with "bond windows" or other appropriate barriers that will limit exposure to staff. Generally, only the individual appearing to post the bonds will be permitted to enter the office. Anyone accompanying such individuals, including children accompanied by another adult, will be asked by security not to enter the building.

Updated 03/18/2020 10:39am

DETENTION

What is ICE doing to ensure detainees in custody are well-cared for during this crisis?

Currently, the CDC advises self-monitoring at home for people in the community who meet epidemiologic risk criteria, and who do not have fever or symptoms of respiratory illness. In detention settings, cohorting serves as an alternative to self-monitoring at home.

Comprehensive protocols are in place for the protection of staff and patients, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), in accordance with CDC guidance. ICE has maintained a pandemic workforce protection plan since February 2014, which was last updated in May 2017. This plan provides specific guidance for biological threats such as COVID-19. ICE instituted applicable parts of the plan in January 2020 upon the discovery of the potential threat of COVID-19. The ICE Occupational Safety and Health Office is in contact with relevant offices within the Department of Homeland Security, and in January 2020, the DHS Workforce Safety and Health Division provided DHS components additional guidance to address assumed risks and interim workplace controls. This includes the use of N95 masks, available respirators, and additional personal protective equipment.

ICE testing for COVID-19 complies with CDC guidance. IHSC updates and shares its COVID-19 guidance with field units on a real-time basis. Subjects selected for testing follow CDC’s definition of a person under investigation.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

How does ICE screen new detainees for COVID-19?

ICE instituted screening guidance for new detainees who arrive at facilities to identify those who meet CDC’s criteria for epidemiologic risk of exposure to COVID-19. IHSC isolates detainees with fever and/or respiratory symptoms who meet these criteria and observe them for a specified time period. IHSC staff consult with the local health department, as appropriate, to assess the need for testing. Detainees without fever or respiratory symptoms who meet epidemiologic risk criteria are monitored for 14 days.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

Is ICE testing detainees for COVID-19 at ICE detention centers, or sending detainees somewhere for testing?

Detainees are being tested for COVID-19 in line with CDC guidance. In some cases, medical staff at ICE detention facilities are collecting specimens from ICE detainees for processing at a commercial or public health lab. In other cases,including when a detainee requires a higher level of care, they are sent to a local hospital and may be tested at the discretion of the treating provider at the hospital.

Updated 03/24/2020 2:15pm

Can detainees attend medical appointments?

Asymptomatic detainees in isolation can attend all appointments. Symptomatic detainees in isolation must wear a tight-fitting surgical mask to attend essential medical appointments. ICE also notifies the medical provider about the detainee’s status ahead of the appointment to coordinate care and protect staff and other patients.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

How does ICE mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within its detention facilities?

Detainees who meet CDC criteria for epidemiologic risk of exposure to COVID-19 are housed separately from the general population. ICE places detainees with fever and/or respiratory symptoms in a single medical housing room, or in a medical airborne infection isolation room specifically designed to contain biological agents, such as COVID-19. This prevents the spread of the agent to other individuals and the general public. ICE transports individuals with moderate to severe symptoms, or those who require higher levels of care or monitoring, to appropriate hospitals with expertise in high-risk care. Detainees who do not have fever or symptoms, but meet CDC criteria for epidemiologic risk, are housed separately in a single cell, or as a group, depending on available space.

ICE reviews CDC guidance daily and continues to update protocols to remain consistent with CDC guidance.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

Will someone who presents symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 be released from immigration custody?

ICE only has authority to detain individuals for immigration purposes. ICE cannot hold any detainee ordered released by a judge. If ICE must release an ill or isolated detainee, health staff immediately notify the local public health agencies to coordinate further monitoring, if required.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

Do ICE facilities have necessary sanitary products to help guard against the virus?

ICE provides detainees with soap for the shower and hand soap for sink handwashing. ICE also provides soap and paper towels that are present in bathrooms and work areas within the facilities. Everyday cleaning supplies such as soap dispensers and paper towels are routinely checked and are available for use. Detainees are encouraged to communicate with local staff when additional hygiene supplies or products are needed.

Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) 2008, PBNDS 2011, require that facilities operating under these respective standards have written plans that address the management of communicable diseases, which should include isolation and management of detainees exposed to communicable diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the definitive source for information about how to protect individuals and reduce exposure to the virus, so ICE continues to encourage facilities to follow CDC guidelines as well as those of their state and local health departments.

Updated 03/27/2020 4:11pm

VISITATION AT DETENTION FACILITIES

My family member or friend is currently in ICE custody, will visitation to the facility still be allowed?

ICE, like other law enforcement agencies with a detained population, is taking important steps to further safeguard those in our care and as a precautionary measure, ICE has temporarily suspended social visitation in all of its detention facilities. ICE will continue to collaborate with the CDC, IHSC, and its network of health care providers to provide updates and revise procedures as necessary.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

How will family members communicate with each other?

ICE recognizes the substantial impact of temporarily curtailing personal visitation, but the agency has determined it necessary to maintain the safety and security of the facility, the detainees and those who work at the facility. ICE will take steps to facilitate such communication with families, in the absence of visitation, through extended access to telephones and other reasonable means. ICE will continue to collaborate with the CDC, IHSC, and its network of health care providers to provide updates and revise procedures as necessary.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

Will individuals in ICE custody be able to meet with their legal representatives?

Detainee access to legal counsel remains a paramount requirement and will be accommodated to the maximum extent practicable. Unless and until it is determined to pose a risk to the safety and security of the facility, legal visitation will continue; but ICE is encouraging all legal representatives to contact the facility at which they must visit their clients in-person to determine current policies and procedures regarding legal visits. Non-contact legal visitation (e.g., Skype or teleconference) should be offered first, if available, to limit exposure to ICE detainees; but if the attorney believes the legal visit requires contact, the facility should permit the visit with the appropriate guidelines it has established.

For in-person, contact (without any physical barriers) visits to occur, the attorney must undergo screening using the same procedures as staff. ICE will require all legal visitors to provide and wear PPE (e.g., gloves, N-95 masks, and eye protection) while visiting with any client at any facility . Legal representatives may also be required to go through similar testing as employees of the detention facility, as determined by the individual facility.The overall authority to approve legal visits lies with the Warden or Facility Administrator; however, the facilities have been asked to notify its local Field Office Director as soon as possible of any denied legal visits.

For attorneys appearing in-person for court at ICE facilities, they are encouraged to contact the Executive Office for Immigration Review for any additional requirements.

Government-sponsored Legal Orientation Programs (LOPs) carried out by the Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and authorized by Congressional appropriations currently operate at a limited number of detention sites and may continue to make presentations to detainees. No more than four LOP presenters may be allowed in the facility at any time and they will need to undergo screening using the same procedures as staff.ICE will require all legal visitors participating in contact visitation to provide and wear PPE (e.g., gloves, N-95 masks, and eye protection) while visiting any facility. Non-LOP legal rights group presentations offered by volunteers are suspended until further notice. ICE will continue to collaborate with the CDC, IHSC, and its network of care providers to provide updates and revise procedures as necessary.

Updated 03/24/2020 2:15pm

Will members of Congress be able to visit ICE detention facilities?

Members of Congress, Congressional member delegations and Congressional staff delegations will continue to have access to the facility for the purpose of conducting oversight. To safeguard visitors, detainees, and ICE and facility staff, official visitors may be subject to special screening and procedures. ICE/ERO now requires all CODELs, and STAFFDELs to provide and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) (disposable vinyl gloves, N-95 or surgical masks, and eye protection) while visiting any detention facility. ICE will continue to collaborate with the CDC, IHSC, and its network of care providers to provide updates and revise procedures as necessary.

Updated 03/24/2020 2:15pm

REMOVALS

Does ICE medically screen detainees before they board a removal flight to their home country?

The ICE Air flight medical provider conducts a visual screening consistent with current ICE policy and procedures on those detainees lacking medical summary information (new apprehensions) who are delivered to the aircraft. Those detainees who are not “new apprehensions” are brought to the aircraft with medical clearance. Any ICE detainee who fails to pass screening by a flight medical provider and/or is suspected of having a health-risk condition potentially contagious to other detainees, staff and/or third parties, will be denied boarding and referred to an ICE approved facility for screening.

In addition to recently issued IHSC guidance, for ICE Air charter removals, there will be a temperature screening at the flight line, prior to boarding. In accordance with IHSC guidance, any detainee with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will be immediately referred to a medical provider for further evaluation and observation.

Updated 03/15/2020 2:38pm

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

Is ICE continuing to hold in-person stakeholder meetings?

ICE will eliminate non-mission critical meetings with the public and use video-teleconferencing and other technology to conduct stakeholder meetings, to the extent practicable. ERO case officers will notify attorneys and those with upcoming scheduled appointments of the temporary change in procedures.

Updated 03/18/2020 10:39am

NONIMMIGRANT STUDENTS AND SEVP-CERTIFIED SCHOOLS

Guidance Documents

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has issued the following guidance to stakeholders:

Updated 03/20/2020 5:45pm

Frequently Asked Questions

SEVP continues to receive COVID-19-related stakeholder questions about SEVP-certified schools and nonimmigrant students. Download this PDF to read answers to Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19. This list is regularly updated – please note the timestamp of the most recent document update.

Updated 03/27/2020 2:24pm

Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/01/2020