Immigration law in the United States has been a complicated practice in recent decades. Disputes involving visiting families or work permits may be sorted out with little lost except time. But time can feel like an enemy if someone is detained due to their immigration status.
A detention center in Evangeline Parish run by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed 300 detainees under quarantine after it and another facility in Colorado showed signs of an outbreak of mumps. The virus is very rare in the United States now due to vaccination but some immigrants are less likely to be inoculated.
Some families and legal representatives are concerned for the safety of their relatives and clients. Although detainees still have recreation rights and access to attorneys, an outbreak in a facility with poor conditions could prove problematic.
"Neglect, I think, is not really strong enough to describe what's happening in there," said an attorney who has interviewed detainees in one of the quarantined facilities. "For example, there's only one physician on staff."
Families should know if their status allows them alternatives to detention or deportation. Even immigrants who lost employment status that sustained visas may have options if they have the time to rebuild their lives.
Immigrants who entered the United States legally or are currently applying for official status should not give up their rights and should demand access to legal services. An attorney may be able to help clarify immigration status, represent claimants in court or help prepare the proper elements to legally stay in the country.