A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered immediate testing of all detainees and staff at a Bakersfield immigration detention center where COVID-19 was spreading for weeks while officials refused to test for the virus.
After receiving results on Friday showing that nearly half of the detainees tested earlier in the week were positive, federal District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ordered the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to conduct quick-result testing of everyone who remains in the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center for COVID-19.
“I’m ordering that it be done immediately, and nobody stop working until they’re completed,” the judge told lawyers for ICE and the private contractor that runs the facility, according to Deputy Public Defender Emi MacLean of the San Francisco public defender’s office. The office represents detainees at the facility in San Francisco Immigration Court.
MacLean said the judge cited the “deliberate indifference” of ICE and GEO Group, the private company that manages the facility, saying, “There’s no question that this outbreak could have been avoided.”
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