Conditions at ICE detention centers and county incarceration facilities — where bunk beds are commonly three-feet or less apart, bathrooms are shared by large groups, and individuals are forced to be inches from each other, sometimes in chains — make it impossible to maintain the social distancing and hygienic standards that are the only defenses against COVID-19 outbreaks.
The vast majority of ICE transfers during the pandemic have been from state prisons and county jails — even people released as part of efforts to reduce the populations at those facilities have been turned over to ICE and sent to detention centers. These crowded centers, with a severe lack of proper hygiene and cleaning products, are rife for virus outbreaks. The situation has gotten so desperate that at several of the facilities detainees have gone on hunger strikes.
We filed this emergency lawsuit in California Supreme Court to force the governor and attorney general of California to halt transfers of individuals to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two organizations that advocate for the rights of individuals in the criminal justice and immigration systems — the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), and the Southern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA SoCal).
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Goodwin H. Liu, wrote, "I fear that today's order will unnecessarily delay resolution of issues with potentially dire consequences for inmates, correctional staff, the health care system, and our state as a whole." "The warning signs could not be more clear." Read the order.
- Phal Sok on behalf of people who were transferred from CA state prisons or jails into ICE custody, including deported U.S. veterans.
- Alameda County Public Defenders – on behalf of 18 public defender offices throughout the state
- Asian Law Caucus
- California Collaborative of Immigrant Justice – on behalf of 24 legal service organizations
- California Public Defenders Association
- Fair and Just Prosecution – on behalf of current and former District Attorneys and Police Chiefs from across the state
- Human Rights Watch
- Immigrant Defense Advocates – on behalf of 85 grassroots and advocacy groups
- Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
- The Office of Los Angeles County Public Defenders