When there is just one person who is sick, everybody pays," said 19-year-old Christian Mejia, who was put on lockdown in rural Louisiana's Pine Prairie immigration detention center along with hundreds of other detainees. According to internal emails reviewed by Reuters, outbreaks such as the one in Louisiana are difficult to manage, as immigrant detainees are often shuttled around the country, and many diseases don't necessarily show symptoms during the contagious phase.

Since January, the 1,094-bed Pine Prairie facility has had 18 detainees with confirmed or probable cases of mumps compared to no cases in 2018, according to ICE. As of mid-February, 288 people were under quarantine at Pine Prairie. Mejia said his quarantine ended on Feb. 25. -Reuters

Disturbingly, emails reveal that the warden at Pine Prairie decided not to quarantine 40 new arrivals from Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi, despite concerns raised by the medical staff. Warden Indalecio Ramos - who referred Reuters' outbreak-related questions to ICE and the GEO Group, which owns the facility - said in a Feb. 7 email that quarantining detainees would prevent them from attending their immigration court hearings.

Two weeks later, ICE requested that Pine Prairie medical staff clear a quarantined detainee for travel, referring to him as a "high profile removal scheduled for deport." Warden Ramos wrote in an email later that day that medical staff wanted to exclude the detainee from transfer, however "ICE wants him to travel out of the country anyway ... Please ensure he leaves."

An ICE spokesman said that people who have been exposed to diseases but are asymptomatic can travel, while anyone known to be contagious cannot