ELOY — Organizers claim that more than 200 cars and 700 people participated in a car rally outside the Eloy Detention Center and La Palma Correctional Center Friday to demand the release of migrants to protect them from the COVID-19 outbreak.

“ICE has the legal authority to release the majority of these detainees right now,” said immigration attorney Rachel Wilson. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that these detention centers are death camps. It’s important to remember that Anne Frank died during a typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen. We can’t turn away from this. It is an absolute catastrophe.”

As of Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had confirmed five COVID-19 cases in Arizona with two in La Palma and three at Florence Service Processing Center. Advocates believe the real number of cases is far higher.

At Friday’s car rally, demonstrators wore face masks and gloves as they called on ICE to make LGBTQ+ migrants a top priority for release, along with those who are chronically ill or have a disability.

Eloy and La Palma are both on lockdown.


Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.