PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released two immigration detainees from a facility in Massachusetts following a lawsuit that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and immigration attorneys.
A petition was filed Wednesday for the release of the two detainees with medical conditions that put them at a high risk for serious illness or death in the event of a COVID-19 infection, WCVB-TV reported. The ACLU filed the petition with Massachusetts-based attorneys Susan Church and Kerry Doyle.
The ACLU released a statement Friday reporting that the detainees had been released and that the lawsuit was part of nationwide effort. According to the statement, there are similar lawsuits in Pennsylvania, California, Maryland, and Washington state.
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said that ICE must take “immediate and drastic steps” towards reducing the population of detainees.
“Public health experts have predicted that once outbreaks in detention centers begin, they will spread rapidly,” Rose said. “The same experts continue to advise that detention centers — as well as jails and prisons — must dramatically reduce their population for the safety of detained people, staff, and the communities they live in.”
The U.S. holds around 37,000 people in immigration detention. Detainees and advocates say many are vulnerable because of age and preexisting medical conditions, and because they are often held in open rooms, beds 3-feet apart, and without adequate supplies of masks or other protections.
Civil rights groups also filed a class-action lawsuit to have all immigration detainees released from the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson described the suit as “completely frivolous.”