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Women in immigration custody are sickened by chemical fumes

Dozens of female detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center had to be evacuated Friday after they became sick from chemical fumes.
(Elliot Spagat / Associated Press)

Several women in immigration custody at Otay Mesa Detention Center were sickened by chemical fumes late Friday and evacuated from their housing unit.

About 118 detainees were taken to an outdoor recreational area after the strong chemical odor was reported, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack. The group was moved back inside about an hour later because of cold weather, she said.

The housing unit was deemed safe after about 2 1/2 hours, she said.

Medical staff were on site in case anyone needed attention, but she said no serious medical issues were reported.

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The odor was identified as a floor-stripping agent being used near the unit’s entrance. The incident is being investigated by CoreCivic, the contractor that runs the facility.

Luis Guerra, an immigration implementation coordinator with United Farm Workers Foundation, went to the facility Saturday. He said witnesses described seeing some women faint and vomit.

kristina.davis@sduniontribune.com


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