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Coronavirus suit filed against ICE, Sheriff Hodgson, for release of all persons in ICE detention, ban on new admissions



BOSTON – A class action for emergency release has been filed in federal court by individuals in civil immigration detention who feel they are at imminent risk of COVID-19 infection due to conditions in the Bristol County House of Corrections run by Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. The complaint, filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights and Yale Law School’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic in partnership with the Brazilian Worker Center, accuses ICE and the BCHC of cruel and inhumane conditions: guards who report to work with coronavirus symptoms, and detained individuals who are still being brought into the facility – amidst the contagion – without any medical testing or screening.

Lawyers for Civil Rights levied more accusations.

“Even after one of the individuals who recently arrived fell severely ill, Bristol County and ICE failed to provide sanitizer or disinfectant. The immigrants bringing this case are literally trapped, and subject to imminent infection, illness and death because of their detention conditions under Sheriff Hodgson and ICE. In filing this complaint, Maria Alejandra, Julio Cesar, and their peers seek emergency release and alternatives to detention for all immigrants experiencing life-threatening conditions in Bristol County.”

According to Lawyers for Civil Rights, Alejandra, an immigrant, suffers from asthma, and Julio Cesar, an immigrant, suffers from extreme depression and anxiety.

“Our clients are afraid for their lives. They are at imminent risk of serious physical, mental, and emotional injury. The harm is compounded daily as the coronavirus spreads with no end in sight. The only known measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 are social distancing and hygiene. Neither of these is available at Bristol County,” said Attorney Oren Nimni of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

“The more people ICE continues to arrest, the greater likelihood that COVID-19 sweeps through Bristol County, if it is not there already. This continued detention is unjust, inhumane, and unconstitutional,” said Megan Yan, a law student intern with the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School.

“We strongly urge the protection of the health, safety, and well-being of all people, including those who due to their immigration status are being held in Bristol County. The dense concentration of individuals in immigration detention facilities confines them to an environment where they are at a high risk of serious Covid-19 infection. At a time when our health care institutions are already lacking in capacity to meet the overwhelming challenges of the pandemic, it is clear that detention facilities are even less prepared to protect and care for the health of those who are under their supervision. This crisis calls for the humane release of immigrants from Bristol County. We urge that this release take place immediately,” said Natalicia Tracy, Executive Director of the Brazilian Worker Center.

We contacted the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office for a response to the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit is absurd and completely frivolous. Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson has no legal authority to release any ICE detainee from custody, and the absurd allegations contained within are completely false. Claiming they have no toilet paper or sanitizer, claiming we admit people without health screenings … it’s laughable how false these lies are. Filing this lawsuit is a waste of the paper and ink it is printed on, and a waste of the time of the people who penned it and those who have to react to it. It will last less than 5 minutes in a courtroom before a judge throws it away. The authors know this, but they’re not really filing this lawsuit to have a judge rule in their favor, they’re doing it to garner headlines and media attention to advance their political agenda, and apparently the media is giving them exactly what they want. The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office is nationally accredited by the American Corrections Association and the National Commission on Corrections Health Care, and currently has no staff member, inmate or detainee with Coronavirus or showing symptoms of Coronavirus.”

The class action was filed on March 26 in federal court in Boston seeking immediate release of immigrants detained by ICE.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Darlene

    March 27, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Some people are always looking for a big money day. The lawsuit is filed by a lawyer that told these people He could get them some money if they just say what he tells them to. All those people have broken the law before so they have no problem doing it again. The lawyer is the worst one, he should get locked up for that stunt.

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