Medical authorities have emphatically stated that maintaining a social distance of six feet is crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19. But conditions at Adelanto, used by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to imprison about 1,300 people, make that impossible.

Among the conditions at the center:

  • Bunk beds are placed only 2½ to 3 feet apart.
  • Cells as small as 8x10 feet are populated by four to eight people.
  • Detainees share sinks, toilets, counters, and showers, with no disinfectant cleaner available for after use.
  • Showers are placed less than six feet apart.
  • Food preparation and service are communal, with six to ten people eating at the same table.

Putting people imprisoned at Adelanto at such heightened possible exposure to the virus is not only inhumane, it also violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and Latham & Watkins, LLP have filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court to demand a drastic reduction in the number of detainees at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit and accompanying request for a preliminary injunction maintain that because ICE has refused to make urgent, necessary changes to its operations during the pandemic, courts must intervene.

Case Developments

July 14, 2020
The first class member has been granted release on bail. Read the bail order.

April 23, 2020
VICTORY! The court grants petitioner's preliminary injunction and orders, among other things:

  • Adelanto shall not accept any new detainees.
  • Respondents shall immediately reduce the detainee population at the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center [“Adelanto”] to such a level that would allow the remaining detainees to maintain a social distance of 6 feet from each other at all times and at all places, including while sleeping, eating, showering, and going about other daily activities, except when there is a medical necessity or a safety emergency.
  • Respondents shall begin to reduce Adelanto’s detainee population forthwith and shall complete the task by May 4, 2020.

Read the court order.

April 14, 2020
The ACLU Foundation of Southern California filed this class action lawsuit with Latham & Watkins LLP. Read the complaint.

Date filed

April 14, 2020


United States District Court Central District of California Eastern Division



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