Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with lawyers from the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and By Any Means Necessary Detroit have all joined the call for the release of the most vulnerable immigrant detainees currently held in ICE lockups. The lawyers have all focused their efforts on helping immigrants housed in four specific ICE lockups in Monroe, St. Clair, Chippewa, and Calhoun Counties. They argue that detainees are simply unable to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, leaving the vulnerable detainees even more vulnerable to sickness and death. A senior ACLU staff attorney stated simply, “civil immigration detention should not be a death sentence.” As of this writing, 38 inmates have died due to COVID-19 in the state prison system run by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Current State Of Ice Detention Centers
Currently only one of the four jails have had positive COVID-19 tests so far. St. Clair County Jail has seen positive tests for COVID-19 for both inmates and staff. The other three county jails listed have not had any positive tests for COVID-19 yet. The argument from immigration attorneys is that the question is not if an outbreak it going to occur, the question is when will an outbreak occur. When an outbreak does occur, what will the jails have done to protect the most vulnerable and prevent the further spread of the disease. More than 700 ICE detainees have already been released due to the pandemic, but immigration attorneys argue that there are still many more that are being left behind.
Lack Of Hygenic Procedures Increasing Covid-19 Risks
One former detainee at the St. Clair County Jail detailed being housed with dozens of other inmates who all shared two bathrooms and one shower. No hand sanitizer was given out nor was it even made available to the detainees. This specific detainee is a diabetic, partially blind, and insulin dependent. He also described how the sleeping arrangements at the lockup made social distancing functionally impossible because of how close all the beds are positioned together. This inmate ended up falling ill and passing out in front of the nurse at St. Clair County Jail and later waking up at McLaren Port Huron Hospital where he was found to be positive for both COVID-19 and pneumonia. Incredibly, after he was discharged from the hospital, he went straight back to the same jail. He was later released, but his sickness actually increased from where it was before, so he returned to the hospital and is still currently there with significant breathing problems. He is unable to maintain his wind to be able to walk to even take full breaths.
By Any Means Necessary argues that the occurrence of COVID-19 cases is much higher than what is being reported because ICE is not testing prisoners until they have been hospitalized. While detainees may be sick, they cannot even be counted as positive for COVID-19 unless they end up in the hospital for it, which for many has shown a fatal end. Other information coming from detainees is that they will often find the hand sanitizers and soaps to be diluted, and bathroom tissue to not be readily available. An ACLU staff attorney argues that we will see more infections and that this is just a race against time. The high rate of infection is an “inevitable consequence” of unnecessarily keeping people detained who shouldn’t be.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any additional questions relating to immigration criminal defense, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.