Media Contact

MEDIA CONTACT: ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, communications@aclusocal.org, 626-755-4129 (cell).

October 16, 2020

Major Reductions at the COVID-plagued ICE Center Must Begin Monday

LOS ANGELES — In a court order that accuses federal officials of “straight up dishonesty,” a U.S. District Court judge today ordered a drastic reduction in population at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center amid a major outbreak of COVID-19.

Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr., a senior United States District judge, ordered that the population of the immigration detention center, where the current number of people imprisoned is 772, must be reduced by 50 a day, starting Monday until it gets down to 475.

The court order is the latest development in the class action lawsuit Hernandez Roman v Wolf, originally filed on April 14 by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP.

“Eight months into the pandemic, over 700 people remain imprisoned for civil immigration violations in an over-crowded jail where basic protective measures are impossible and dozens fall ill with COVID-19 each day,” said Jessica Bansal, senior staff attorney at the ACLU SoCal. “Today’s order confirms that our Constitution does not condone such basic disregard for human lives and safety.”

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s website, 162 of the people currently imprisoned at Adelanto have tested positive for the virus.

In today’s order, the judge said, “The court has been concerned for some time with the lack of candor exhibited by the government and its counsel in this case.” He continued, “Now the court is concerned with straight up dishonesty on the part of the government’s counsel.”

The judge said the court is reassessing information provided by the government in the case. “The court is concerned that the facts and arguments that it previously perceived to be merely inaccurate or ambiguous might have been, actually, dishonest or, at best, disingenuous.”

He said his concerns go far beyond technical matters.

“This case involves human lives whose reasonable safety is entitled to be enforced and protected by the court pursuant to the United States Constitution,” Hatter said.

Earlier decisions in Hernandez Roman v Wolf pointed out that the Adelanto center was a tinder box for COVID-19. It noted that among the conditions there were:

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

Previous court rulings have declared urgent actions be taken to alleviate conditions at the center, but the government repeatedly sought delays, even as COVID-19 spread through the facility.

Read today’s court order here: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/ord.dct_.686_adelanto_population_reduction_order.pdf #