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Detained Latina Sued ICE and Then Contracted COVID-19

In late April, a federal judge ruled that immigration detention officials had to release vulnerable detainees so they could avoid contracting the coronavirus. Hundreds of undocumented detainees were released, as were prisoners. Marisol Mendoza wasn’t one of the lucky ones. 

According to the Guardian, Mendoza — who battles diabetes and depression — she should have been one of those that should have been released because of her health issues. But she was not. She sued CoreCivic, the private contractor who owns the Eloy detention center in central Arizona, which is where she’s remained since 2016. A judge ordered that she stay in the detention center but also ruled that officials had to be more accommodating to Mendoza and her health needs in order for her not to get sick. According to the report, that did not happen. Mendoza ended up contracting COVID-19

“Ms. Mendoza is no longer at risk of infection. She now fears something much greater. She fears the risk of imminent death,” her attorney, Matthew Green, wrote in an emergency request arguing for her release to her family’s care in Mesa, Arizona, according to the Guardian

ICE reports that they currently have 947 detainees with COVID-19. Of those positive cases, the Eloy detention center has one of the highest coronavirus cases, with 132 infected. 

For now, Mendoza remains in isolation where nurses check on her, but her family and lawyer say the conditions at the detention center will only worsen her illness. Her family continues to request her release. 

“She would be so much better off in our house, even if she is sick, we will take care of her. She’ll get the love she needs,” her 22-year-old daughter Leslie Rosales told the publication. 

Her lawyer said that he feels the Department of Justice assumes that Mendoza will recover from the coronavirus. However, statistics show that it is people just like Mendoza — Latinos older than 35 — are the ones that do not survive. 

Mendoza said that each day her health issues, plus her depression, make surviving the coronavirus seem like an impossible situation.

“I feel weak, I feel like I don’t have motivation to live, like I have nothing left to do,” Mendoza said to the publication. She then reminds herself of her children waiting for her at home. “I know that’s not true because I have my daughters who love me and are waiting for me.”