Migrants sent to Washington with COVID-19
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement flew 64 people it had detained at the southern U.S. border to Washington and then bussed them to the agency’s Northwest detention center, where three tested positive for COVID-19, according to La Resistencia — a group led by undocumented people and volunteers that works alongside detainees to end detentions and deportations and shut down the detention center in Tacoma. The COVID tests occurred upon a medical screening intake.
A guard who worked in the kitchen at the detention center also tested positive the same day, April 27, bringing the number of guards who have tested positive to “at least 20,” according to La Resistencia.
In late March, the Washington Legislature passed a law that will close the facility. The law bans for-profit prisons in the state and thus only pertains to the detention center, which is run by the controversial GEO Group that will be disallowed from renewing its contract with the federal government for the Washington facility when the current contract expires in 2025.
La Resistencia and the Shut Down NWDC Coalition have increasingly called on lawmakers to close the center, which opened in 2004, picking up messages from inside that COVID safety measures are not in effect.
Legislature averts transmisogyny
The Washington Legislature outlawed limiting or denying gender-affirming health-insurance coverage, passing Senate Bill 5313 the last weekday of the 2021 lawmaking session.
The bill will apply to insurance plans issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2022, and amend four statutes, incorporating that “a health carrier may not deny or limit coverage for gender affirming treatment when that treatment is prescribed to an individual because of, related to, or consistent with a person’s gender expression or identity ... is medically necessary, and is prescribed in accordance with accepted standards of care.”
Meanwhile, Republican Reps. Rob Chase, for District 4, and Brad Klippert, for District 8, proposed a bill to codify transmisogyny by limiting students’ sports participation to the sex assigned to them at birth. The bill did not make it past Chase and Klippert’s presentation, which was part of a trend most fervently seen in Tennessee and Texas.
The Human Rights Campaign announced that “more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2021, and additional bills may be filed before the end of the legislative sessions.”
“The previous record,” HRC said in the April 22 announcement, “in 2015, when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law — is poised to be shattered.”
It now has been. Eleven anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted this year, and nine are awaiting a governor’s signature. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the anti-transgender sports bill legislators passed.
Read more of the May 5-11, 2021 issue.