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Immigrant rights organizations, directly impacted individuals host press briefing on use of toxic chemical disinfectants at ICE prisons

Honk for Justice rally in San Diego
In San Diego, AFSC supported the Otay Mesa Detention Resistance’s "Honk for Justice," a car rally to demand that Gov. Newsom and San Diego County officials advocate for the closure of San Diego’s detention center and free all people in ICE detention.  Photo: Pedro Rios / AFSC

Nationwide – Beginning in early May, both the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ) and Freedom for Immigrants began to receive a series of distressing calls from people detained at the Adelanto Detention Center in California. Callers described how a powerful chemical disinfectant called HDQ Neutral is causing bloody noses, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Similar reports of chemical disinfectants causing adverse medical reactions have now been reported at immigrant prisons across the country, including at the Glades County Jail in Florida, the for-profit GEO Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado, and Northwest Detention Center in Washington. 

Despite multiple civil rights complaints filed by immigrant rights organizations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to allow facility staff to spray these chemicals every 15 to 30 minutes. Rather than release people from their custody so they can safely shelter with family and community, ICE is keeping people locked in dangerous environments and retaliating with pepper spray and solitary confinement. Most recently, groups have received reports of rubber bullets in response to hunger strikes, and protests led by people in detention in support of Black Lives Matter

WHAT: Media Briefing to inform reporters on the serious, dangerous side effects caused by the use of harsh chemical disinfectants at immigrant prisons across the country, as well as the retaliation people face for speaking out.


  • Lizbeth Abeln, Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ)
  • Sarah Gardiner, Freedom for Immigrants
  • Wendy King, Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees
  • Jordan Garica, American Friends Service Committee - Colorado office
  • Jose Tapate (audio) currently detained at the Adelanto Detention Center
  • Astley Thomas, currently detained at the Glades County Jail
  • Alma Rosa, speaking on behalf of Kelly Gonzalez Aguilar, currently detained at the Aurora GEO detention center
  • Pablo, currently detained at the Aurora GEO detention center

WHEN: Tuesday, June 22 at 8:30 AM PST/11:30 AM EST

WHERE: The media briefing will be held on a conference line: RSVP here


The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.


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