Bahena v. ICE (Immigration Detention)
In California and across the country, thousands of immigrants are being held in overcrowded and unsanitary detention centers run by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, where social distancing is not possible. As a result, they are at a high risk of contracting the Coronavirus. Older people and those with certain underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable to a potentially fatal COVID-19 infection.
Public health officials have warned that ICE’s failure to reduce the number of people detained endangers the lives of all detainees, staff in the facilities and the broader community. Yet immigration officials are failing to fulfill their constitutional obligation to protect the health and safety of individuals in ICE custody.
On March 24, 2020, thirteen immigrants detained in Mesa Verde Detention Center and Yuba County Jail filed a lawsuit in federal district court against ICE calling for their immediate release on the grounds that the COVID-19 outbreak places them at an elevated risk of serious illness or death.
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU Foundations of Northern California and Southern California, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and Lakin & Wille LLP.
We are calling for ICE to exercise its discretion to immediately release vulnerable populations on humanitarian grounds.