Agreement Announced to Protect Migrants Released Due to Pandemic in California Against Recapture by ICE

Detained migrants filed a complaint with federal authorities alleging that they are exposed to "unsanitary" conditions and risk of contagion.

Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced Thursday an agreement to protect immigrants who were detained in two centers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) in California at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and were released due to the risk of contagion.

The agreement is in response to a lawsuit filed in April 2020 by several immigrants represented by the ACLU, who denounced the dangerous conditions to which detainees were exposed at the Mesa Verde Detention Center and the Yuba County Jail.

As a result of the litigation, the number of immigrants in custody at these two facilities was reduced from 462 to 62.

The settlement agreement provides "strong protections" so that the hundreds of immigrants released from custody will not be detained again by ICE, the ACLU explained in a statement.

It was also achieved that for three years protection is granted to the health and safety of those who remain in custody. This includes a population cap to allow for social distancing, testing and vaccination orders for staff and immigrants in custody, the release of vulnerable individuals, and adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. (CDC).

Sean Riordan, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California's immigrant rights program, called the agreement an important, potentially life-saving measure that will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

For her part, Bree Bernwanger, an attorney with the San Francisco Bay Area Civil Rights Committee, said in the statement that ICE had put detained immigrants and communities at risk “by detaining as many people as possible.” in dirty and crowded dormitories and cells, creating a tinderbox for COVID-19.”

Recently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service confirmed that More than 1,200 migrants held in its detention centers in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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