Why it matters: The announcement aims to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to encourage anyone who needs testing or treatment to pursue medical assistance.
Immigration advocates have renewed calls for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to release detained immigrants amid the coronavirus outbreak after a father kept at a family detention center in Texas killed himself on Wednesday.
ICE says there aren't any confirmed coronavirus cases at its detention facilities - and that protecting the health and safety of those in its custody is one of the agency's top priorities.
Agents will also stop operations at or near health care facilities, including hospitals, doctor's offices and urgent care facilities, "except in the most extraordinary of circumstances". "Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement".
The agency, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, did not immediately respond to questions about how numerous approximately 37,000 detainees it has in custody will remain there. Examples include investigations into child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling and terrorism.
It is unclear how long the new strategy will be in place but officials explained in a statement the move is created to "ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents". Immigrant advocacy groups are pushing for ICE to release detainees now, before it's too late.
Around the United States, ICE has close to 38,000 illegal immigrants under detention.
Advocates have called on ICE to reduce its detainee population and its operations to arrest migrants in the USA without authorization amid the coronavirus outbreak, which could pose a special risk to people jailed in close quarters.
Trump had put in place broader arrest and detention directives against all immigrants living in the country illegally, reversing Obama-era policies that had focused on immigrants with serious criminal records. Court officials had canceled all hearings except for those already detained, as of Tuesday night. Another migrant said detainees are denied access to hand sanitizer.
"Immigrant detention centers are institutions that uniquely heighten the danger of disease transmission", Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's National Prison Project, said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed Monday.