Judge declines to order release of more medically vulnerable ICE detainees

Judge Dana Sabraw cited improved conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Center, where COVID-19 has spread rapidly.

5/30/2020 5:33:00 AM

A San Diego federal judge has denied a request to force immigration authorities to release dozens of detainees who are at heightened risk of developing serious complications should they be sickened with COVID-19

Judge Dana Sabraw cited improved conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Center, where COVID-19 has spread rapidly.

Detainees held by ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service are concerned that people who tested positive for the virus have been returned to their units too quickly.Since then, ICE has released 92 of the 134 people identified. An additional at-risk person is expected to be released soon, while another

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before he could be released. The 34 medically vulnerable people remaining in custody have been deemed by ICE as potential dangers to the community, and ICE has declined to release them.Advertisementrequest for a preliminary injunctionsought additional steps: prohibiting new detention of released subclass members, prohibiting any new admissions to Otay Mesa, and ordering the release of the remaining subclass members. ACLU attorneys argued that there were ways to mitigate public safety concerns and that some of the remaining at-risk detainees had criminal convictions that were several years old.

In considering the request, Sabraw explained in his order that much has changed at the detention facility since he issued his first directive. For instance, medically vulnerable detainees have now been identified, more protection and sanitation policies are in place and new admissions have been suspended. The facility is now operating at 38% capacity, with 489 detainees awaiting civil immigration proceedings or deportation and 269 criminally charged inmates.

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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