(WASHINGTON) – The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, FL has confirmed cases of H1N1. The American Federation of Government Employees has urged the agency for weeks to fit its personnel with N-95 masks, as well as training and information on to deal with the H1N1 virus. “This is an outrage that it has taken an actual outbreak to move DHS into action with regard to the safety and well-being of its employees,” said Pat Remigio, president of AFGE National Council 118-ICE. Members of AFGE National Council 118-ICE were briefed yesterday by DHS on plans to deal with the H1N1 virus. “DHS is a day late and a dollar short. Our personnel should have been briefed and fitted for protective gear from the outset,” continued Remigio.
The ICE personnel at detention centers such as the one at Krome are in a high risk environment, dealing with hundreds of individuals who are waiting for their immigration status to be determined or who are awaiting repatriation. “Flu-like symptoms in several detainees were reported on Monday June 8th. Since the outbreak of the flu, contract employees at Krome have had access to N-95 masks but ICE employees have not. Only now that H1N1 is confirmed are our personnel being fitted for protective gear. It doesn’t make any sense.
“We have been asking the agency for weeks for training, support and protective equipment – any information at all – on H1N1 and ICE has been completely unresponsive. Only now when one of our facilities has an actual outbreak, do we get action from the agency,” stated Remigio.
“This is about protecting our members from a life-threatening illness. The threats to their safety could have been avoided. ICE should have mandated the use of the masks and other protective gear from the onset of H1N1,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “The agency needs to get its priorities straight. We welcome the opportunity to sit down with Secretary Napolitano to discuss solutions so a situation like this doesn’t happen again.”