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The case

On the morning of April 17th, 2020 one of our clients detained at Otay Mesa Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19. His symptoms worsened rapidly with fevers over 100 degrees, difficulty breathing, tremors, chills, and body aches.


The Otay Detention Center is keeping our client in a solitary confinement cell with poor lighting and a bed so hard, it’s impossible for him to get proper sleep. Though COVID-19 had already killed over 170,000 people at that time, he was only been treated with pain killers. 

Our client’s treatment is not surprising, and neither is the fact that he became infected in the first place. Between March 15, 2020 and April 21, 2020, 29 people detained at Otay Mesa Detention Center had tested positive for COVID-19, the highest number of cases among ICE prisons nationwide at that time.


Our client’s illness was a direct consequence of ICE's utter disregard for the wellbeing of people in detention. That is why ImmDef's legal team client fought for his immediate release so that he could have a fighting chance to survive COVID-19. 


COVID-19 is ravaging the nation’s jails and immigration detention facilities. At the time of our filing, at least 253 people in ICE detention were positive for COVID-19, and ICE was not reporting cases of infections among its contractor's employees. Many detained people are at particular peril because they suffer from multiple aliments that elevate their risk of contracting a severe COVID-19 infection.


The CDC has warned that people with these conditions should stay at home and away from other people as much as possible. It is impossible for people in immigration detention to follow these guidelines while in ICE custody where they continue to be grouped in pods of 80-100 people each, and into cells of 5-8 people each. ICE is aware of all of these conditions yet refuses to release it medically vulnerable population on medically necessary humanitarian parole. ImmDef is demanded their immediate. release.



Case documents

  • April 19, 2020: ImmDef Files Habeas Petition on Behalf of 4 clients.

  • Habeas Petition

  • TRO Application

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