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'Bloody Noses, Burning Eyes': Advocates File Complaint Over Chemical Disinfectant Use At Adelanto Detention Center

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Imprisoned immigrants are seen at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, California. (DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
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Advocacy groups for immigrant detainees have filed a civil rights complaint with the federal Department of Homeland Security, alleging detainees have been subject to chemical exposure at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in San Bernardino County.

The facility currently holds about 1,100 detained immigrants, including asylum seekers and people who are fighting deportation.

Since May 11, several detainees have reported to advocates that the frequent use of a disinfectant used at the facility has caused people to have eye irritation, bloody noses, and cough up blood.

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The Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice and Freedom for Immigrants filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Thursday.

According to the complaint, detainees reported that the disinfectant, HDQ Neutral, was being sprayed around housing units about every 30 minutes. According to the manufacturer's safety sheet, the disinfectant should be used "only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area."

In an emailed statement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said: "Disinfectant formulations used at Adelanto are compliant with detention standards, registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and used according to manufacture instruction for routine cleaning and maintenance of the facility. Any assertion or claim to the contrary is false."

The agency said it is "committed to maintaining the highest facility standards of cleanliness and sanitation, safe work practices, and control of hazardous substances and equipment."

According to the agency, one ICE employee and one ICE contract employee have tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility so far.

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