The American Civil Liberties Union sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement to coerce the release of illegal immigrants who are “particularly vulnerable” to coronavirus.
“Immigrant detention centers are institutions that uniquely heighten the danger of disease transmission. In normal circumstances, ICE has proven time and again that it is unable to protect the health and safety of detained people,” Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, said in a statement Monday.
The lawsuit lists nine people being held at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center, located just outside Seattle, with Washington being a hotspot for the coronavirus outbreak. The ACLU warns that another 50 to 100 people could also be at high risk in the detention center.
“These are not normal circumstances, and the heightened risk of serious harm to people in detention from COVID-19 is clear,” the statement adds. “Public health experts have warned that failing to reduce the number of people detained — and in particular, failing to release those particularly vulnerable to the disease — endangers the lives of everyone in the detention facility, including staff, and the broader community.”
The same detention facility in Tacoma was attacked last July by an anarchist who claimed association with antifa, before being killed by police.
The man was armed with a rifle and threw “incendiary devices” at the facility, attempting to ignite a propane attack nearby. He also left behind a manifesto in which he claimed his intention was stopping the operation of “concentration camps” on U.S. soil, after Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) described ICE detention centers as concentration camps weeks on Twitter.