December 15, 2020

Cortez Masto, Rosen Cosponsor Bicameral Legislation to Require COVID-19 Data Collection in Immigration Detention Facilities

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) joined the COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act, introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas.), to require immigration detention facilities to collect and publicly report data about COVID-19 cases and the preventative measures that are in place at these facilities.

“Nevada’s immigrant communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and we know that individuals in detention centers are especially at risk for contracting and becoming seriously ill with coronavirus,” said the Senators. “Unfortunately, we may not know the full scope of the problem due to a lack of federal reporting standards and opaque data collection practices. This legislation will help fix this problem by ensuring we have the information we need to prevent outbreaks and keep people safe.”


COVID-19 presents serious risks to individuals in group settings, including in immigration detention facilities. Tens of thousands of people are currently held in, or work in, facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), as well as in immigration detention facilities that have contracted with these agencies. Many detained people cannot take precautionary measures such as social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment due to their close confinement and the limited resources available to them. Currently, available information about the number of COVID-19 cases affecting individuals in immigration detention is inadequate for the purpose of stopping the spread of the virus and protecting detainees, staff, and nearby communities. Federal reporting standards are necessary to protect against the virus and mitigate outbreaks.

The COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act provides public health experts, policymakers, immigration advocates, and the public with critical information about COVID-19 in immigration detention facilities. The bill creates reporting standards for agencies and facilities responsible for the custody and care of immigrant detainees. 

The bill would do the following:

  • Require ICE, CBP, ORR, and contract facilities to collect and submit COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a weekly basis and regularly publish this data on their websites. The data will be stored in a manner that protects an individual's privacy and may not be used against them in any future immigration proceedings. 
  • Mandate that ICE, CBP, and ORR report to Congress on the protocols and practices in place at each detention facility under their jurisdiction, outlining the health standards, the standards of medical care provided to detainees, and the sanitation practices at each facility. 
  • Require ICE, CBP, ORR, and the head of each contract facility to report to Congress on the efforts made to ensure detained individuals have access to legal counsel.
  • Ensure that detained individuals tested for COVID-19 have confidential access to all their test results and medical records, in their preferred language.

The COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act is endorsed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Amnesty International USA, American Public Health Association, Church World Service, Freedom for Immigrants, Immigration Hub, Kino Border Initiative, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Partners in Health, and Southern Poverty Law Center.