Two dozen Colombians who had been in the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for several months, were sent home as part of an ICE sped-up repatriation program last May. Unknown to the deportees, they had become infected with COVID-19.

In the first piece of a multi-part investigation for palabra, FIJ grantee Jenny Manrique Cortes tracked some of the victims. The portrait that emerged is one where the negligence of both Colombia and the U.S., and a lack of medical protocols created a tragic path of infection.

 That flight was one of more than 300 that left with more than 70 thousand deportees, as the pandemic spread across the US, according to ICE data. Future stories will explore the situation in other Latin American countries.