Posted on March 27, 2020

Civil Rights Orgs to ICE: Protect Immigrant Detainees from COVID-19 or Release Them

Camille Squires, Mother Jones, March 25, 2020

Earlier today, the Southern Poverty Law Center asked a federal judge to issue an emergency preliminary injunction requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide protections against the coronavirus outbreak for immigrants being held in their custody. The motion, filed in a US District Court in California, demands that ICE immediately enact a protocol to protect vulnerable people held in detention, or start releasing them.

The request for an emergency injunction is part of a larger lawsuit that the SPLC and other civil rights organizations first brought against ICE in August 2019. It was quickly filed after ICE on Tuesday confirmed the first positive case of COVID-19 in a person being held in ICE detention.

The motion argues that ICE detention centers are essentially hotbeds of rapid transmission for the novel coronavirus. {snip}


The motion proposes a short, 24-hour window for ICE officials to put medical safety procedures in place. If they are unable to do that, they should release vulnerable people within 48 hours. “Release is an option,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director of criminal justice reform at the SPLC. “The detention of people is not legally required. ICE has total discretion.”