CA Latino Caucus Issues Statement on First Known COVID-19 Death of a Migrant Detainee at the Otay Mesa Detention Center

May 07, 2020

SACRAMENTO – The leaders of the California Latino Legislative Caucus made the following statements after the first known coronavirus-related death of a migrant who was in ICE custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center was reported on Wednesday, May 6:


“We knew the public health crisis at the Otay Mesa Detention Center would result in a tragedy like this, and it could have been prevented. ICE and CoreCivic must act quickly to safely release more people from detention in this coronavirus hotpot. This is a matter of life and death,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Chairwoman of the Latino Caucus. 


"Health and living conditions in detention centers are deplorable. During a global pandemic we must do everything in our power to protect the well-being of those under ICE custody. The inability to physically separate and social distance those in custody makes for the perfect conditions to spread the virus, jeopardizing the health of detainees and employees as well. The death of one person in detention is one death too many. Let detainees out of custody and stop subjecting them to COVID-19 death sentences," said State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Vice Chair of the Latino Caucus. 


The Latino Caucus first called out the unsafe conditions at the Otay Mesa Detention Center on April 6 with a letter to the California Department of Public Health requesting personal protective equipment (PPE) for inmates and staff. This letter was followed up with requests to state and local officials to provide additional resources for the safe release of detainees from the facility, which now has some 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Recently, a federal judge ordered the release of more than 72 medically vulnerable detainees from the Otay Mesa Detention Center.


For questions or to schedule an interview with a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, contact Sami Gallegos: