New Report: Polling Shows Bipartisan Support for Halting Immigration Raids and Detentions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic



As COVID-19 continues to spread and communities rush to protect the most vulnerable — including those held in prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities — new polling shows that a majority of voters, both Democrats and Republicans, would support an Executive Order halting new detentions of non-citizens for the duration of the current state of emergency.

The data, released Thursday in a report by The Justice Collaborative Institute and Data for Progress, comes amid renewed attention to the specific hazards non-citizens face amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Fears of arrest and deportation can lead immigrants to avoid self-quarantining or seeking medical attention, which public health experts have warned could increase the spread of the virus among their communities and into the general population. And if immigrants end up detained in facilities, they face many of the same dangerous conditions present in other jails and prisons — cramped quarters, a lack of access to soap and other hygiene products, and poor medical care. The polling suggests there is shared concern on these issues, and some bipartisan agreement on how policymakers should respond:

  • 59% of voters, including 53% of Republicans, would support an Executive Order instructing immigration enforcement to suspend new detentions of non-citizens;
  • 51% of voters support limiting the detention of newly arrived immigrants and refugees who are awaiting a hearing;
  • 56% of voters support releasing elderly people from immigration detention;

“The U.S government must do more to protect vulnerable immigrant communities from COVID-19 during this time of crisis,” said Violeta Chapin, a Clinical Professor of Law at Colorado Law who authored the report. “Failure to do so will result in many lives lost, both among immigrants and the broader public, which is a cruel and unnecessary outcome.”

The polling follows an announcement by immigration authorities that they would temporarily halt enforcement efforts, except for actions to deport immigrants who have committed crimes or who “pose a threat to public safety.” But subsequent reporting found that the branch of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in charge of deportations recently requested 45,000 N95 protective masks for operations — presumably to be carried out amid the pandemic.

The full polling memo is available here.

The Justice Collaborative Institute is a coalition of justice reform scholars from across the nation focused on providing an academic perspective to conversations and work surrounding mass incarceration and related issues.

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