On April 1, 2020, the ACLU National Prison Project, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and ACLU of Massachusetts, Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program Boston University School of Law, Demissie & Church, and Graves & Doyle filed McMenamin v. Souza et al in the District of Massachusetts on behalf of immigrants detained at the Bristol County House of Correction.

The lawsuit seeks the release of plaintiffs in immigration detention who are at high risk for severe illness or death in the event of a COVID-19 infection due to underlining medical conditions and age. The only way to protect against COVID-19 is “physical distancing” and hygiene, both of which are impossible as detainees are housed in close quarters and rely on shared spaces. Because of this, public health experts with experience in detention settings have recommend the release of vulnerable detainees. The release of the most vulnerable people in custody will also lessen the likelihood of a large number of people becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 at the same time and overwhelming the healthcare system.

The ACLU is calling for the immediate release of the plaintiffs on the ground that their continued detention violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

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