April 27, 2020

Feinstein to ICE: Protect Detained Immigrants from Coronavirus, Allow Supervised Release

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to immediately reduce the risk of coronavirus infection among ICE detainees by exploring the supervised release of immigrants who don’t pose a risk to national security or public safety and providing basic necessities to immigrants who remain in detention.

“Because of this current crisis, ICE should explore the supervised release of vulnerable detained immigrants who are not risks to national security or public safety,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “Methods of release could include parole or other alternatives to detention, such as community or case-based monitoring. ICE should also take immediate action to make sure all detainees have access to hygiene products, hot water and soap. This would help limit the spread of this pandemic and protect lives.”

Full text of the letter follows:

April 27, 2020

Mr. Matthew T. Albence
Acting Director
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Washington, DC 20536-5003

Dear Acting Director Albence,

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this letter requests that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) explore the supervised release of vulnerable immigrants who are not risks to national security or public safety. The letter also requests ICE take immediate steps to reduce the risk of infection among ICE detainees.

As of April 18, 2020, ICE is detaining approximately 31,000 people across the country in hundreds of detention centers that have a history of poor medical care. For example, in California, the Inspector General found the Adelanto ICE Processing Center posed “significant health and safety risks” and that detainees waited “weeks and months” to see a doctor.

The elderly, people with serious chronic diseases, and other high risk groups are especially at risk of contracting COVID-19. Approximately 317 ICE detainees have already tested positive for the virus. ICE detention facilities can be a dangerous breeding ground for COVID-19 because they require the shared use of common spaces and do not allow for social distancing.

Troubling whistleblower reports have also recently uncovered a pattern of medical mismanagement at ICE facilities. Unfortunately, there have already been ten deaths in ICE custody in the first seven months of this fiscal year. This bypasses the total number of deaths in all of the previous year.

Because of this current crisis, ICE should explore the supervised release of vulnerable detained immigrants who are not risks to national security or public safety. Methods of release could include parole or other alternatives to detention, such as community or case-based monitoring. ICE should also take immediate action to make sure all detainees have access to hygiene products, hot water and soap. This would help limit the spread of this pandemic and protect lives.

Thank you for prompt attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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