Miami, FL — Today, the ACLU of Florida sent Public Records Act requests to Glades County and Broward County 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. The Public Records Act requests seek information regarding the provision of COVID-19 booster shots to people in Glades and Broward County detention centers, and any updated contract language regarding requirements that staff of federal contractors be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE detention centers have been among the most dangerous places in the United States. At the Glades County Detention Center, 200 detained people have contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including one person who died in custody. 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. This data only reflects what has been reported and it is likely infection rates in Florida and nationwide surpass these numbers.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have witnessed a total disregard for basic public health precautions within ICE detention centers in Florida,” said Katie Blankenship, staff attorney at the ACLU of Florida. “ICE must be held responsible for the safety of every individual under its custody, and that must include ensuring everyone has access to booster shots against COVID-19. These public health guidelines are a matter of life and death for detained people, and it is unacceptable that the agency has acted with so little transparency and oversight during the pandemic.”
The ACLU of Florida’s requests seek 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 effect at area detention facilities, including contract updates that incorporate requirements for staff vaccinations against COVID-19;
- 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) recommend 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.
The Glades County Sheriff’s Office letter is available online here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/glades-county-sheriffs-office-prr-covid-vaccines-and-boosters-121521
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office letter is available online here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/broward-county-sheriffs-office-prr-covid-vaccines-and-boosters-121521