The fright and anxiety over the spread of COVID-19 in Texas breached the walls of an immigration detention center this week and led to what immigration attorneys, detainees and their family members described as a disturbance inside the complex that officers in the facility met with pepper spray.
They said the incident happened Monday after detainees in the South Texas Processing Center in Pearsall raised concerns about the lack of screening measures for new arrivals to the complex, which is operated by the Florida-based GEO Group under a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Everyone is panicking,” an asylum seeker who has been detained at the facility for about three months said in a phone interview. “We don’t have anything. We don’t have disinfectants; they are not taking any precautions.”