• Hours & Info

    (562) 495-0554
    M-F: 8:00am - 6:00 p.m.
    Sat: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Social

  • Past Blog Posts

Judge Orders COVID-19 Tests at California Detention Center

The Associated Press reports that a federal judge, on Thursday, ordered ICE to test everyone held at a California immigration detention center for the coronavirus. Noting that the authorities had shown “deliberate indifference to the risk of an outbreak,” the judge said that ICE had “lost the right to be trusted” on its willingness to take safety measures at the Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield. In emails to the contractor, GEO Group, ICE officials noted that the agency wanted to avoid universal testing because it did not have room to quarantine all those who might test positive.

A Canadian immigrant died of COVID-19 in ICE custody this week.

On Wednesday, a 72-year-old Canadian immigrant held in a privately run detention center passed away from COVID-19 complications. James Hill, a doctor, was being deported after serving a 12-year sentence for writing opioid prescriptions without seeing patients. After being held in detention for three months, his flight to Canada was scheduled, but he was hospitalized for COVID-19 before he could make the flight. He was hospitalized for nearly a month before he passed away this Wednesday, August 5. Mr. Hill had told his family that while in ICE detention he was forced to sleep in a crowded dorm with 80 men. This follows from other complaints that both publicly and privately-run ICE detention centers have not followed CDC recommendations on how to handle COVID-19. Hill’s family said that he had served his sentence and did not deserve to die due to ICE’s “negligence.” The Farmville center currently has 290 confirmed COVID-19 cases

Despite the new rule being rescinded, international students are still being denied visas.

On July 14, ICE agreed to rescind the rule requiring students to take in-person classes this fall or else leave the country. However, a group of state attorneys told a judge on Tuesday that ICE has not yet followed through on completely ending the policy. Even after July 14, international students have been told by consulates that they need proof that their studies will not be entirely online this fall. Visa applications have both been denied and put on administrative hold as recently as July 21. In court, the attorneys were asking for “guidance” to ensure that the agreement to rescind the policy stays in place. 

A federal judge has delayed the deadline for ICE to release detained children.

On July 16, a federal judge extended the deadline for ICE to comply with an order to release detained children. District Judge Gee extended the deadline by 10 days after government lawyers said they needed “more time” and that both sides were engaged in “discussions.” Many advocates are concerned that ICE’s interpretation of the order will lead to more family separations, since ICE’s position is that it does not need to release parents with their children. Before the deadline was extended, ICE was requiring parents in detention to choose between keeping their children in detention with them or releasing them to outside guardians. The order applies to the three detention centers in the U.S. which house detained families, which are located in Texas and Pennsylvania.

ICE Offering ‘Citizens Academy’ Course with Training on Arresting Immigrants

ICE Chicago Field Office Director Robert Guadian sent a letter to shareholders inviting them to participate in a six-week “Citizens Academy” course on immigration enforcement. According to the letter, the program is “the first of its kind” and will “serve as a pilot for nationwide implementation.” The course would include training in “defensive tactics, firearms familiarization and targeted arrests.

2021 visa lottery results have been posted.

On June 10, a federal judge in New York ruled that the practice of making immigration arrests in and around state courthouses was illegal. The lawsuit against ICE was brought by the New York attorney general, who argued that ICE’s actions “chilled participation” in courts and disrupted hearings, as ICE would arrest people coming in for scheduled hearings. This is the second federal judge to rule against the policy; last year, a judge in Massachusetts issued a preliminary injunction stopping ICE from conducting arrests in or at the entry of Massachusetts courthouses..

ICE has transferred detainees during the pandemic without testing

In a federal court hearing on May 27, ICE admitted that it is not testing all detainees before transferring them to other facilities. ICE policy is currently to test detainees with symptoms, which may have already led to the transfer of asymptomatic detainees. The admission was made during a hearing regarding a temporary order to reduce the detainee population in South Florida immigration detention centers. Judge Cooke clarified in the hearing that the purpose of her order was not to encourage transfers, but rather reduce the detained population to limit transmission risks. She is expected to decide whether to extend the order within seven days.

A second person in ICE custody has died of COVID-19.

On Sunday, a 34-year-old man named Santiago Baten-Oxlag, who was in ICE custody, passed away from COVID-19 complications. Before being admitted to a hospital in Columbus, Georgia, he was detained at the Stewart Detention Center, a privately-run prison. Advocates have criticized ICE for continuing to detain many immigrants who are at a higher risk for COVID-19, and for allegedly not adhering to CDC recommendations for infection prevention.

Senators Send Letter Urging DHS to Halt Detention Transfers and Expand Coronavirus Testing

NBC News recently reported that in the past several months, ICE has shuffled hundreds of people in its custody around the country, leading to COVID-19 outbreaks in facilities in four states. A group of senators sent a letter urging DHS to take immediate steps to halt the transfer of individuals in ICE custody between detention facilities and to expand COVID-19 testing at all ICE facilities. AILA endorsed the letter. Yesterday, the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on incarceration and detention during COVID-19, during which Dr. Scott Allen, a medical subject-matter expert in detention health for the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, gave testimony in his individual capacity to warn of the high potential for COVID-19 to spread through detention centers.

Undocumented immigrant activists face immigration risks in joining protests.

The past week has seen protests across the U.S. in response to George Floyd’s death and against police brutality and systemic racism. In some cities, the protests were accompanied by “riots” and “looting.” Across the U.S., some peaceful protesters have been arrested, tear-gassed, and shot with rubber bullets. Undocumented immigrants, including DACA beneficiaries, have had to grapple with these risks to protesting, in addition to the risk that an arrest could affect their immigration status. On Sunday, CBP acting Commissioner Morgan said that the agency was supporting law enforcement against “rioters,” but also said that the move was not meant to enforce immigration law. One DACA recipient and activist named Máxima Guerrero was arrested in her car while leaving a demonstration in Phoenix, and was in ICE custody for two days. After a large community outcry, she was released by ICE.

%d bloggers like this: