Jacob Soboroff on how ICE detention centers have become COVID hot spots

The “Separated: Inside an American Tragedy” author discusses how the global pandemic and racial politics have overshadowed the treatment of migrants inside detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
5:28 | 07/15/20

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Transcript for Jacob Soboroff on how ICE detention centers have become COVID hot spots
The global pandemic and racial politics and protests have distracted from when might children being taken from their parents under you know whose zero tolerance policy, but Jacob soboroff shares his firsthand account, and how it's still raging today in his new book, "Separated: Inside an American Jake, welcome. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Thanks, whoopi. It's good to be here. It's good to have you. You were one of the first people inside the detention centers and you got a look at what was going on in there, and those children that had been separated from their parents in 2018. When you went in, did this look like something you would ever see in the U.S., or did it look like we were in some other country altogether? No. It looked like the U.S. Would go and stop from happening in another nation and I'll never forget it as long as I live. I went into first a former Walmart, 250,000 square feet in Brownsville, Texas where children were being held inside 22 hours a day. 5,200 boys, hundreds of them had been separated from their parents and then just a couple of days later on father's day, 2018, I went to what was called the epicenter by a trump administration official, the McAllen border tral, and you're looking at it. Children laying on floors, covered in Milon blankets. It makes me sick every time I talk about it to this day. That's why I wanted to write the book. I saw it with my own eyes. That's why I call it "Separated: Inside an American tragedy." I'm as patriotic as any of us, and I love this country, but I wonder, how could our country do this to people coming to our country to seek refuge, so seek peace and a better life? That's why I did the book, and that's what I explored in the I sure hope trump supporters will read your book. You believe what's happening now at the border is worse. Tell us what you think about that. Yeah. You're right, joy, and I'll say it's not my words. It's the American academy of pediatrics, and the peace prize winning person that calls this a systematic campaign of torture of 54 children under the guise of an immigration policy, and these children will be left with lifelong trauma for the rest of 5,400, and today this is still going on. On Friday, there's a deadline for 335 parents and children again who are on the verge of separation by the trump administration. I thought this would come to a stop, and I remember clearly you talked about on the show, it was supposed to be the end of the policy, but it turns out it wasn't. It's not only because separations are still happening, but they're happening in the context of a global pandemic, of the coronavirus, and the conditions inside where these migrants are being held today are worse than ever before. Jacob, your reporting on this has been so incredible, and I'm grateful for all the work you've done, but these I.C.E. Detention centers have become absolute hot spots for covid-19, and thousands in custody have contracted the virus. Nearly half of the employees at one center have tested positive. They called this, quote, a war zone. What are the conditions like at the facilities like today, and is there anything that can be done to help keep these people safe? Yeah, thanks, Meghan. So the war zone comment that was given to me from NBC by an employee inside the detention center not far from Phoenix where you are from. You probably know it better than anyone on this panel right now. Inside there, half the staff, nearly half the staff tested positive for the coronavirus. Detainees say through their lawyers and in court declarations they don't have proper social distancing and they don't have proper ppe, and lawyers continue to argue that the best case scenario would be to release people who are in danger because they're here trying to get asylum. Asylum is an international right, but the trump administration doesn't see it that way, and they continue to put in more restrictive practices and that's why today, you asked about today, in these I.C.E. Family detention centers, the deadline is Friday. Lawyers say, just let the children and parents out together. They could probably do it before the end of the segment, decide to let out the parents and children. Yet the trump administration continues to dangle separation over these families. I don't know. I learned from the people who were in charge of this policy. That doesn't mean there weren't heroes and there were from every twist and turn trying to stop this from happening in 2018, but the administration and the political folks inside are the ones that kept pushing it through, and they're still successful in doing that today. It's amazing who gets out and who has to do the time, isn't

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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