ACLU Statement on Announcement that ICE will Release Medically Vulnerable People

April 7, 2020 6:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced in a letter to Congress this afternoon that it will be reviewing the cases of people in detention who may be medically vulnerable to COVID-19 and placing people in alternatives to detention. So far, the agency has identified 600 people who fit that description, and it claims to have already released 160 of them from detention.

The ACLU has filed lawsuits in 13 states across the country demanding that the agency release clients who are at high risk due to age or underlying medical conditions. So far, more than 30 of our clients have been released.

Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, issued the following statement:

“ICE is finally acknowledging that what we have been fighting for in the courts is true: Immigrant detention is a death sentence for people who are at high risk due to age or underlying medical conditions. It is absolutely unconscionable that we would keep people detained under these conditions. Of course, public health experts have been clear that we need to see dramatic reductions in the 35,000 people who are detained — many more than 600 must be released to meaningfully mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and avoid a humanitarian crisis.”

Last week, the ACLU sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling for the temporary release of everyone in ICE detention for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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