Updated: Mar 25, 2020
ImmDef's response to COVID-19.
ImmDef's clients are being greatly affected by this pandemic, and for this reason, our staff is working at full capacity to protect them. Though we are largely working from home, we continue to fight for them by filing motions in their favor and appearing at court as mandated by EOIR. You can continue to reach us by calling our main line [(213)634-0999] during regular business hours, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the most recent updates, please check our Twitter here. We ask for your patience as we transition our operations as a result of COVID-19.
TUESDAY MARCH 24th 5:30 P.M. PDT
MONDAY MARCH 23rd 5:30 P.M. PDT
-Attorneys are being required to bring their own PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in order to be allowed to enter ICE detention facilities to carry out their work. This is incredibly unreasonable considering the current shortage of PPE's. ImmDef and other Legal Service Representatives proposed a solution. Read it here.
FRIDAY MARCH 20th 4:30 P.M. PDT
-Border Patrol will immediately return anyone found crossing the northern or southern borders, as per orders from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
-Although the Trump administration claims that 'Remain in Mexico" courts will continue, there have been reports of asylum seekers being turned back when they show up at the US border to attend their hearing.
-According to our legal team, detained youth dockets are at a standstill and all cases got continuances but things could change any moment. Yesterday EOIR said that the juvenile docket, hearings for unaccompanied minors who are living in shelters run by the federal government, will continue.
THURSDAY MARCH 19th 4:30 P.M. PDT -Some immigration courts are being ordered closed, but this seems to be done arbitrarily by the White House. "Announcements of court closings have been made via midnight tweets without any explanation – even to court staff– on how the government is picking which courts to keep open." -All immigration hearings for people not currently in detention postponed. The closings come after an unprecedented joint call for EOIR to close immigration courts. Courts for people currently in detention are still continuing. -ICE claims it will limit deportations to focus on criminals involved in child exploitation, drugs or gangs... but then appears to walk back on their claim. TUESDAY MARCH 17th 11:00 A.M. PDT White House itself is choosing which immigration courts get to close amid COVID-19 As state and local courtrooms across the country have shuttered their doors, immigration courtroom closures are being decided on a case-by-case basis by the White House itself, according to records...
ImmDef's Protective Measures: COVID-19 Pandemic
ImmDef has taken great measures to ensure the safety of its employees and clients in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that efficiency at ImmDef translates into maximum impact for our clients, which is why we took care to craft a contingency strategy that is allowing us to maintain our operations at maximum capacity while keeping all of our stakeholders safe. As of Friday, March 13th we have begun to carry out all meetings virtually whenever possible. There may be exigent circumstances where in-person client meetings (for example, to sign an application or filing) still need to occur, but these will only be carried out as a last resort and with tremendous caution. ImmDef staff members are being encouraged to work from home. Meticulous measures are being taken to prevent exposure to the coronavirus for the very few staff members whose work still requires them to come work at the office. Though this pandemic is unprecedented, our team is resilient and immensely passionate. We work with people whose lives are often rocked by uncertainty, violence, and discrimination among other things. We know how to navigate through chaos, and we want to assure you that our commitment to our mission is only being strengthened by this challenge. Our team is prioritizing the health and safety of our families and communities while also ensuring that no immigrant stands alone, especially in these challenging time. As we adjust to the myriad of new challenges, your support is more important than ever.
People in Migrant Detention Amongst Most Vulnerable to COVID-19
Adelanto is an ICE prison located just 90 miles outside Los Angeles. With nearly 2,000 people imprisoned by ICE, detainees are forced to sleep with up to 100 persons per barrack. On March 10, the Los Angeles Times reported there were at least 4 individuals undergoing coronavirus testing. Doctors have reported that a COVID-19 outbreak is inevitable with the current conditions in detention centers. ImmDef joined a dozen other immigration legal services providers in Southern California to demand ICE release COVID-19 vulnerable persons immediately under humanitarian parole. ICE has yet to do so. ImmDef is fighting for its clients every hour during this pandemic to ensure their safety. Join us in demanding ICE release detainees and all the families and individuals in the Remain in Mexico program.
How you can help
-Call 1-866-DHS-2ICE and your local representatives (who's contact info you can find here) and quote the following demands
-Immediately release the most vulnerable, including those who are fifty years or older, who have longstanding medical conditions, or who are immuno-compromised.
-Evaluate the remaining population for release.Inform people of their right to seek humanitarian release.
-Ensure every person held at Adelanto during the COVID-19 pandemic has ongoing access to confidential communication with prosecutive and current counsel.
-Ensure every person has access to their hearings in immigration court and guarantee that no person's immigration case is negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
-STAY SAFE: Follow the CDC's guidelines and protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
ImmDef's Director of Advocacy & Litigation, Munmeeth Soni, speaking about the tremendous danger posed by covid-19 to people in migrant detention. Click image to view video interview.
ICE is shuffling unaccompanied children between detention centers across the US. They are doing this despite strong travel advisories from the CDC and other government agencies that warn of increased exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Since 2017, at least 7 unaccompanied children have died while in US custody, several from diseases like the flu.
Conditions in detention centers are severely inhumane and detainees are suffering the consequences. These include deaths, severe mental trauma, and very likely, compromised immune systems among the detainee population. Since the outbreak, members of our Detained Youth Empowerment Program (DYEP) have not been able go to detention centers to conduct much needed “Know Your Rights” presentations, among other services. These children are being left without advocates, and solely in the care of an agency that has time and time again shown tremendous disregard for the children's wellbeing. ImmDef staff is currently strategizing and working hard on finding the best plan of action to protect our child clients. Follow us on social media and stay tuned for more updates on our DYEP work.
Immigration Courts Continue Amid Coronavirus Fears
With the exception of group hearings, immigration courts are expected to continue, even as the amount of COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Hearings for people in special detention, I.E. Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), continue at full swing. These hearing tend to be crowded, heightening the chances for asylum seekers to contract the virus. These individuals already have to contend with broken safety nets, extreme violence and countless other stressors in Mexico's northern cities, where they wait out their asylum cases. Their lives are at even greater risk now. In an rare display of solidarity, the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 511 (which represents ICE employees), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said: "The Department of Justice's (DOJ) current response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread is insufficient and not premised on transparent scientific information." ICE is still raiding communities as we speak in the midst of a pandemic crisis. They are putting deportations at higher priority than public health. As many of us practice social distancing from our homes, think of the thousands in ICE prisons, those in the Remain in Mexico program, and innocent people forced to continue to appear in court. There is no such thing as mass quarantine.