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Quarantine ends for most at Northwest Detention Center

Post by News Tribune Staff on June 24, 2008 at 2:37 pm with No Comments »
June 24, 2008 2:37 pm

I’ve just written something for tomorrow’s paper about the ending (for most) of the quarantine at the Northwest Detention Center on Tacoma’s Tideflats.

Click below to read it:

The quarantine of more than 900 of the 1,000 immigrants held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma ends Wednesday, six days after a detainee fell ill with chickenpox and federal officials locked down the facility.

Court cases for immune detainees resumed Tuesday, and deportations start again as early as Wednesday, said Lorie Dankers, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Visits from friends, family members and attorneys also resume Thursday.

Detainees who aren’t immune to the disease will be quarantined through July 7. They can’t be deported or receive visitors.

"We can’t move them in a government capacity," she said.

Two detainees tested positive for the disease, which causes itchy rashes and bumps on the infected person’s face and body. Two other detainees’ bloodwork is pending.

The original detainee to test positive for chickenpox was a Mexican national who worked in food service but had no direct contact with food preparation. The second, a Honduran national who came into federal custody in late April, showed signs of the infection Friday.

Doctors determined all but 80 of the about 1,000 detainees held at the center were immune from the disease after bloodwork showed evidence of either the vaccine or a previous exposure. About 240 of the detainees are women; they didn’t require testing because they’re segregated from the male population.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review is working to schedule as many cases after the quarantine is lifted to avoid a backlog, Dankers said. Detainees who arrived after Tuesday are being placed into the same residence pods as immune ones.

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