Prisoners' Rights issue image

Zelaya V. Archambeault

Last Update: April 13, 2020

What's at Stake

On April 3, 2020, the ACLU National Prison Project, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project filed Zelaya et al v. Archambeault et al in the Southern District of California on behalf of immigrants detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center and Imperial Regional Detention Facility in California.

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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