ICE detention

Hannah Colton / KUNM

An effort to get public money out of private ICE detention in New Mexico saw a partial victory this week. A coalition of educators and immigrants rights advocates have been urging the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board to drop investments in CoreCivic and GEO Group, corporations that own or manage three-quarters of migrant detention facilities in the U.S and are accused of a range of civil and human rights abuses. Between the two, they also imprison hundreds of state and federal inmates in four New Mexico counties.

In a retirement board meeting Friday, members pushed off a decision to divest until later this fall. But the stock market decided for them in one case: CoreCivic is being dropped from the fund’s portfolio this week due to poor financial returns. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Calls for a major New Mexico retirement fund to drop investments in companies that operate private prisons and ICE detention may finally be answered this week. After over a year of pressure from a growing coalition of teachers and advocates, the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board could vote this Friday on a proposal to divest from GEO Group and Core Civic.

Google Maps

Reports are emerging of people held in crowded ICE detention facilities around the country testing positive for the coronavirus. In New Mexico, a man who'd left the Otero County Processing Center told KVIA-TV this week that a young boy inside had contracted COVID-19, a report that was later confirmed by ICE officials. Immigrant advocates in New Mexico and elsewhere have been calling on ICE since March to create plans to prevent outbreaks and to release people most at risk of serious illness. On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Deb Haaland joined a coalition of Congress members in calling for the release of non-violent people who are being detained.

Bryce Dix / KUNM

Episode 39 is focused on migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in our communities, and on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, which are often overcrowded around the United States and are criticized for bad medical care. ICE announced it will review cases one-by-one and release vulnerable people. Officials and advocates say that's not anywhere near fast enough as COVID cases are cropping up around the country in ICE detention centers, and outbreaks in them could overwhelm regional hospitals.

Ed Williams / KUNM

Nationally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 42,000 people in custody on average on any given day last year. People leaving ICE detention often say conditions were bad, and they were abused or didn’t get enough to eat. Some New Mexico lawmakers are carrying a bill that might create a window into ICE facilities here.