Coronavirus

ICE Detention Facility Sued Over Possible COVID-19 Threat to Immigrant Detainees

Immigrants want to escape possible COVID-19 death trap, most having committed no violent crime.

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[Update: According to an email from Lawyers for Civil Rights, who helped assemble the lawsuit, on April 3 but after this article was originally written, Judge William Young in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts "started the process for releasing nine civil immigration detainees from ICE custody in Bristol County. The court indicated a path forward that is expected to result in additional releases over the course of the next week….Not all the individuals being released fall within the CDC high-risk categories, making this one of the first times that a court responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has ordered humanitarian release for immigrants not based on individualized medical risk factors."]

 

Yale Law School's Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, along with Lawyers for Civil Rights, have organized and filed a class-action suit on behalf of 147 plaintiffs against a variety of county and federal officials associated with the Bristol County, Massachusetts, House of Corrections and the C. Carlos Carreiro Detention Center, a federal ICE facility.

The suit is demanding the humanitarian release of immigrant prisoners thought to be threatened by COVID-19. The suit also seeks an injunction against locking up any new detainees in the facilities.

In a filing in the case, the plaintiffs insist that "more than two-thirds of the 147 putative class members have never been convicted of any crime of violence; more than one-third have never been convicted of any crime at all; and approximately one-third have medical conditions that Defendant acknowledges may make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19."

The suit insists that the detainees are

subject to imminent infection, illness, and death because of their civil immigration detention—literally trapped, with no safe alternative available to them. Facility staff have rebuffed their inquiries about COVID-19 risks and precautions. Their confinement conditions and detention treatment have created a dangerous and hazardous situation that imminently threatens their lives, as well as the well-being of guards and others in the surrounding community.

The defendants are "afraid for their lives" since they have no meaningful opportunity for social distancing while detained in conditions they insist are unhygienic. The filings insist at least two correctional officials were reported by inmates to display flu-like illnesses they could not confirm were or weren't COVID-19.

The suit points out, for those who fear the alleged chaos of releasing prisoners, that the detainees in question "are not being detained pursuant to a conviction. Rather, they are in civil detention awaiting the completion of immigration proceedings." ICE, the suit points out, has had "a long-standing practice of releasing for humanitarian reasons even those whose detention has been mandated under particular immigration detention statutes" and "regularly uses alternatives to detention to maintain custody and control over non-citizens in immigration proceedings, such as supervised release, electronic ankle monitors, home confinement, and telephonic monitoring."

For 80 of the detainees in question whose personal details the plaintiff organizations were able to confirm, "almost" none of them face a "presently executable removal order" and "nearly all have a residence at which they could self-quarantine and shelter-in-place if ordered released by this Court."

Further, "those without a personal residence have been offered alternative residential placements by local faith leaders sufficient to ensure that no putative class members ordered released would be without a home or ability to shelter-in-place safely."

The suit notes that the virus is already known to be spreading in "correctional, immigration detention, and veterans' facilities across the country." Other courts in Michigan and California, the plaintiffs showed in a separate filing, have been releasing prisoners because of COVID-19 fears. (C.J. Ciaramella has been reporting for Reason on how federal prisons are dealing, or not dealing, with COVID-19.)

As of this writing, the plaintiffs admit no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have specifically shown up in either facility one nurse in the Bristol County HOC is reported to have COVID-19, and "at least 38 [detainees] have serious medical issues such as heart conditions; diabetes; liver and kidney disease; and lung and respiratory conditions, including bronchitis and asthma. These individuals are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19." New detainees, the plaintiffs say, are still being introduced to the confined, unhygienic space without testing or quarantine.

Hearings in the case, formally known as Savino v. Souza, are being held in federal court in Boston today.

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  1. They can’t return to their country of citizenship?

    1. Shows the hysteria of the media about KungFlu.

      Immigrants would rather die in anything America than return to the shitholes they came from.

      wuhanvirus is not any more serious than seasonal Flu/cold.

      1. You know I generally agree with you on a lot of stuff, but the WuFlu really is a hell of a lot more serious than seasonal Flu/cold, by every metric.
        That’s not to say that the response hasn’t been panic driven, and that authoritarians of every stripe haven’t been exploiting it, but it really is serious business.

        1. You know I generally agree with you on a lot of stuff, but the WuFlu really is a hell of a lot more serious than seasonal Flu/cold, by every metric.

          We actually simply don’t know. It may not cause more deaths than the flu.

          What is clear is that our responses are fundamentally wrong even if it is much worse than the flu.

        2. 7500 Americans have died in 10 weeks from Kungflu.

          Those death rates illustrate how this is less serious than seasonal flu/cold. Most Americans have no idea how many Americans die everyday from all the other causes if death. So average ~94 wuhanvirus deaths per day in America sounds like the end of the World. Its not.

          The 2017-19 influenza infected 45 million and killed 79,000. Until we het to those numbers, this virus is a joke. A horrible horribly bad joke with the worst punchline that involve tens of millions to have lost their jobs for no good reason. Violence that will shock a nation is coming.

          1. You’re ignoring how virulent this virus is (much more so than the flu) and that the case load is just ramping up. There were 34,000 new cases and 1320 deaths just yesterday, up from 445 deaths just 7 days earlier. That’s about a 3X increase per week, which if it keeps up for a mere 4 weeks, we’ll have about 105,000 deaths/day, and if that lasts a month, that will be over 3 million dead. The other consideration mostly being ignored, is the permanent damage and ongoing health issues many will have as a result of damage the virus causes that the flu doesn’t.

            1. It’s already peaking in New York.

    2. +1 catapult.

      1. Trebuchet.

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    4. And why is the article talking about immigrants? ICE facilities hold illegals. Immigrants are people here legally.

    5. “Immigrants want to escape possible COVID-19 death trap, most having committed no violent crime.”

      Good. We’re in agreement. Let’s deport them.

      Think win-win.

  2. Fill up those empty planes and send them home.

    1. Socially distance them from the US. It’s the compassionate thing to do.

      1. The US is run by cis-gendered white heterosexual male racists and their co-conspirators(*) anyway, so it’s hard to see why anybody would want to come here. /sarc

        (*) Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, etc.

    2. Stay home and visit adult classifieds australia for sexy chat pleasure

  3. “literally trapped, with no safe alternative available to them”

    Their own countries?

    1. That is not the answer Doherty was looking for.

  4. They are free to leave any time they want. Just not onto U.S. soil.

    1. Not really. Voluntary departure is only allowed for certain folks who qualify and can pay airfare to leave. Brazil has actually flown at least one planeload south at no expense to the U.S. government. But some countries refuse to accept back their citizens and won’t issue travel documents.

      1. Your citation fell off.

      2. ICE Detention Facility Sued Over Possible COVID-19 Threat to Immigrant Detainees

        Immigrants don’t get detained. Illegal migrants, people who break visa regulations, and who commit serious crimes are detained.

        most having committed no violent crime.

        I haven’t committed any crime, yet I’m under house arrest in my state right now, all the while having to pay taxes. So cry me a river.

      3. Not really. Voluntary departure is only allowed for certain folks who qualify and can pay airfare to leave.

        Absolutely false. Voluntary departure, including who pays airfare, is under the discretion of a judge.

        But some countries refuse to accept back their citizens and won’t issue travel documents.

        So these are people who, through their own fault, are stranded without travel documents and without sufficient funding for travel. Therefore, it’s not the US that’s detaining them, it’s the US that is providing a place for them to stay despite their bad choices.

      4. “But some countries refuse to accept back their citizens and won’t issue travel documents.”

        We should bill all countries for the public services consumed by their citizens illegally in the US. Particularly if they’re *refusing* to take them back.

  5. So we’re filing lawsuits now based on maybe but hasn’t happened yet?

    1. Yup, infinite possibilities, some quite horrifying. We’ll call them Schrodinger’s illegal, and continually file the lawsuits until they’re observed.

    2. Not only that Reason ignores the obvious: if illegals didn’t come here illegally, they wouldn’t be put into detention, so could avoid detention and the risk of contracting Covid at a government facility, at no cost to the US or the illegal. Seems reasonable to me, that we should be charging them for providing shelter, food and medical care, if they come here voluntarily, and if they don’t want to pay then they don’t have to come here and expect me as a taxpayer to support them.

  6. Strange, Ctrl F fails to find even one instance of “illegal” in the essay. Why are all these legal immigrants being detained? That is pretty outrageous.

    Oh, wait, it’s Reason, never mind.

    They’re not trapped, they can leave any time they want to exit the country.

  7. Great idea..the Feds are paying the airlines to keep flying empty… incremental cost zero…free ride home. Great opportunity to repatriate the imprisoned foreigners.

  8. Invasion of the USA is a violent crime.

    1. It’s dealt with as a civil offense, except in cases of recidivism. Word gets out that a Reason intern from India claims all malcontents are morally entitled to sneak into These States and demand handouts. Naturally they line up and allegedly pay huge sums to be smuggled in. Most are fleeing economies deliberately wrecked by exportation of prohibitionist eugenics laws Republicans are fond of–since Herbert Hoover’s “good neighbor” tour of 1928. Few are prosecuted for re-entry, probably for lack of prisons to crowd them into.

      1. Your citation fell off.

      2. Most are fleeing economies deliberately wrecked by exportation of prohibitionist eugenics laws Republicans are fond of

        Prohibitionist eugenics laws were progressive laws, favored by progressive luminaries and academics at the time, including Keynes, supposedly based on the latest scientific data.

        Hoover, despite the (R) behind his name, was a big government progressive. There are always some progressives in the Republican party, but the root of the evil here is progressivism, and it is the Democratic party that promotes it.

        Furthermore, countries like China and India are certainly run according to the kind of racist principles progressives favored, but that racism isn’t directed towards the Chinese or Indians, it’s directed towards non-Chinese and non-Indians respectively.

      3. “It’s dealt with as a civil offense.”

        That’s the problem. We’re dealing with a criminal act as a civilian offense.

        They have to go back.

  9. The suit needs to be tossed out, or ignored.

    You can’t release illegals. And, if they must be released, it’s back in Mexico. The US cannot waste resources on illegals, right now.

  10. This is easy….ship their asses home.

  11. Just have the judge and activists house them in their homes.

  12. I see in the update that the judge isn’t even pretending that this has anything to do with actual danger posed, but then again, how could he? Detention centers imprison illegal immigrants the same way front doors hold door to door sales men hostage on a front porch.

    1. Oh, I like that analogy, I’ll have to remember it.

  13. So, if these detention centers, prisons and nails really are giant incubators, wouldn’t releasing those already exposed increase the risk for the rest of the country? How is it different then when we quarantines cruise ships with positive cases? I am all for decreasing our prison populations but the logic of free all prisoners because the prisons are full of COVID-19 doesn’t track.

    1. ^EXACTLY my thoughts; If the GOV cannot even contain the virus with detention controls why the h*ll do they pretend they can control it out in the public. As-if releasing them into the infected public is some kind of protection??? Where does such idiotic thinking come from?

    2. “So, if these detention centers, prisons and nails really are giant incubators”

      Shouldn’t they be closed down?

      ‘Than’ is the correct word, by the way. ‘Then’ means something else entirely.

      1. Shouldn’t they be closed down?

        Yes! And the people in them should be sent back to the countries where they are from!

  14. The federal government has since 1908 required the deliberate blinding and killing of Americans by poisons added to alcohol. Thousands were maimed and killed and no bureaucrat or politician so much as true-billed. I am willing to bet money that efforts to prosecute for detaining foreign uninspected entry invaders of even visa overstay evaders will also go nowhere. Their fears are imported from the Democratic People’s State of China, which could offer to accept deportees who designate China as country of destination.

    1. The federal government has since 1908 required the deliberate blinding and killing of Americans by poisons added to alcohol.

      Denatured alcohol is clearly marked; if you have suffered brain damage from it by consuming it (as you apparently have), you only have yourself to blame. Furthermore, the US does not mandate denaturants to be toxic.

      Prohibition, alcohol taxation, and denaturing are primarily driven by progressive ideology and the desire to “improve society”, the same mechanisms that drove eugenics and segregation. Today, the people promoting such ideologies are predominantly found among “liberals”, academics, and in the Democratic party.

  15. How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t care and I am using the wrong version at times just to get you to react? It is so puerile of you to nitpick a grammar error rather than make an actual argument. Every time you do correct my usage, rather then debate me you just further prove my point. You simply can’t help yourself, despite the fact that I have told you I am baiting you sometimes, you don’t know when I am purposely baiting you now and when I actually make an honest mistake.

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