KQED’s Farida Jhabvala Romero interviewed Deputy Public Defender Emi MacLean for the report: Half of All Detainees at Bakersfield ICE Facility Have Tested Positive For COVID-19. This outbreak was discovered after a federal judge ordered weekly coronavirus testing at the Mesa Verde immigrant detention center.

But immigration officials opted for slower testing that did not provide results for days, said Emi MacLean, a plaintiff lawyer with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. The delay meant people who later were confirmed with COVID-19 slept in dorms with dozens of others, she added.

“They made all of these excuses about why they couldn’t use them, that it was too burdensome for their health care staff,” MacLean said. “If that is not a sign of callous disregard for the lives of people in their custody, I don’t know what is.”


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