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Immigrants suing Adelanto ICE operations company claim they were sprayed with toxic chemical


People detained at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southern California said they were sprayed with a disinfectant and were left to suffer the health consequences. Now, they've moved forward with legal action.

The group represented by the Social Justice Legal Foundation announced the filing of a lawsuit on Tuesday against the company contracted to operate the Adelanto ICE Processing Center-Geo Group Inc.

Miriam Scheetz is one of seven plaintiffs named in the complaint. During a rally outside a federal courthouse on Tuesday, she shared the symptoms she claims she suffered.

Speaking in Spanish, Scheetz said they included dizziness, nausea, fainting, vomiting, and itching of her eyes and skin along with blood from her nose and mouth.

Scheetz said she still suffered from severe headaches. All this after daily exposure to HDQ Neutral.

Scheetz said while in detention at the Adelanto facility, she worked cleaning all hard surfaces, first, with a diluted solution of the product, but when COVID-19 hit, management instructed people to stop diluting the HDQ Neutral with water.

The class action lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of more than 1,300 detainees claimed improper use of the chemical from February 2020 to April 2021, followed by disregard from staff when people said they reported symptoms.

Scheetz said she remembered the panic when every 15 minutes, groups were sprayed down with the mist raining down over their heads and meals.

Pilar Gonzalez Morales is one of the attorneys with the SJLF representing the plaintiffs.

"Geo group didn't just use HDQ Neutral against the manufacturer instructions and in violation of federal law, but they also lied to our clients and the people they were supposed to care for. Geo group told detained people that they had to spray every 15 to 30 minutes," Gonzalez said.

A spokesperson for the Geo Group Inc. told Eyewitness News in a statement shared on Tuesday the cleaning products the company uses are regulated by the EPA and are used in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, adding:

"Our cleaning products are safely and widely used throughout the country in many different settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, youth centers, and colleges and universities. Allegations such as these are part of a long-standing, politically motived, and radical campaign to attack ICE's contractors, abolish ICE, and end federal immigration detention by proxy."

Organizers called for the shutdown of the Adelanto facility, asking people to contact their congressional representatives with that message.

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