Note: this article, featuring our clients Drs. Scott Allen and Josiah Rich, was originally published here.
Activists Demand Immediate Release of Virginia ICE Detainees Because of Coronavirus Concerns
A judge’s decision could have broader implications concerning how detainees are kept in custody, as federal law enforcement agencies adjust their operations.
WASHINGTON A decision is expected this week on whether seven Virginia detainees in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can be released, after lawyers for the immigrants said the men and women are now in danger, so grave that it violates contemporary standards of decency.
At issue are conditions in both of Virginias ICE detention centers, and the health of seven detainees who are over 60 years old. Immigration activists said the individuals originally from Africa, Central America, and Oceania may be at risk of severe complications if the detainees’ contract coronavirus.
For at-risk individuals like [the seven ICE detainees], protection from the virus is a matter of life or death, lawyers wrote in their lawsuit demanding immediate release.
Neither facility is equipped to enforce social distancing and improved hygiene in order to reduce the risk of severe illness or death for vulnerable individuals.
U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady heard arguments in Alexandria Friday from the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, Legal Aid Justice Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and lawyers representing ICEs Virginia field office.
OGradys decision could have broader implications concerning how detainees are kept in custody, as federal law enforcement agencies adjust their operations while coronavirus takes hold.