ICE detention center in southwest Georgia passes 1,000 COVID-19 cases

Stewart Detention Center leads the country in COVID deaths

A federal immigration detention facility in southwest Georgia has passed the threshold of 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to an update on the website of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Per ICE’s data, the Stewart Detention Center, located in the remote, small town of Lumpkin, has tallied 1,006 confirmed cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus over the course of the pandemic. As of September 23, the facility had 26 cases “currently under isolation or monitoring.”

Only five other ICE prisons across the country have recorded more confirmed cases than Stewart. Other than the Georgia facility, no immigration detention center east of Arizona has surpassed the 1,000-case threshold.

With four of its immigrant detainees having died of COVID-19, Stewart remains the leader nationwide in coronavirus-related fatalities. The most recent death — that of a 57-year-old Mexican national — took place in January.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment. In January, the agency told the AJC that “ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody.”

Stewart Detention Center “is not a safe facility for anyone ... especially those most vulnerable to serious illness and deaths from the virus,” said Amilcar Valencia in a statement. Valencia leads El Refugio, a nonprofit that supports immigrant detainees at Stewart.

Last month, El Refugio was among a group of immigrants’ rights organizations that filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of medically vulnerable individuals detained at Stewart.

Lautaro Grinspan is a Report for America corps member covering metro Atlanta’s immigrant communities.