(MIAMI)—The American Federation of Government Employees today expressed concern for the family of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent whose 19-month-old infant recently was confirmed as having contracted the H1N1 flu virus. The agent is an employee at the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, which has six confirmed cases of the virus.
“We are deeply concerned about this baby and offer full support to our fellow ICE employee,” said Matthew Brooks, president of AFGE Local 527, which represents workers at Krome. “This child is an innocent victim in what could be a very serious game that ICE is playing with its employees.”
AFGE’s National ICE Council 118 for weeks urged ICE officials to provide its personnel with N-95 masks, in addition to training and information on dealing with the H1N1 virus. ICE on Saturday, June 13 finally did outfit its personnel at the Krome facility with masks, but only after confirming four cases of the virus at the facility. (Two more cases since were confirmed and 20 more are suspected.)
“ICE has shown very little concern for its employees,” Brooks said. “Even now, the detainees are being treated with antiviral medication, but the employees have not been.
“At least at the Krome facility, ICE has exhibited a clear lack of preparedness,” Brooks added. “There are enough resources out there to protect front line employees from the H1N1 virus, but management here decided instead to shield detainees and allow its workers to contract a potentially deadly virus.
“ICE must immediately fully protect all of its employees, including providing antiviral medication,” he said. “We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 750,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.