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BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF TEN IMMIGRANTS IN ICE DETENTION, AMID COVID-19 CRISIS

March 27, 2020

CONTACT: Daniel Ball, 203-213-9303 dball@bds.org 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF TEN IMMIGRANTS IN ICE DETENTION, AMID COVID-19 CRISIS

Federal Judge in Southern District of New York Finds Detention Under Unsafe Conditions was Unconstitutional; Holds ICE Accountable for Failure to Consider Release for People Most at Risk.

(NEW YORK, NY) – Last night, Judge Analisa Torres ordered the immediate release of ten immigrants detained by ICE in Hudson, Bergen, and Essex County Correctional Facilities, after Brooklyn Defender Services filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Southern District of New York, seeking their release from ICE custody because of ICE’s inability to protect them during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The order finds that ICE has been and continues to be deliberately indifferent to serious medical needs and ignores the threat caused by COVID-19 “that will likely cause imminent, life-threatening illness.”

Andrea Saenz, Attorney-in-Charge, New York Immigrant Family Unity Project at Brooklyn Defender Services, issued the following statement:

“This is the first federal court in the nation to find that ICE is showing deliberate indifference to the safety of detained people who have medical conditions putting them at high risk if they contract COVID-19 – so much that their detention is likely unconstitutional and they must be immediately released. We felt like we had no time to lose, with ICE ignoring our requests for release, and brought as many clients as we could to the attention of the federal court as fast as we could, asking them to hold ICE accountable. This was a huge victory, but we’re going to keep fighting to free them all.”

Brooke Menschel, Civil Rights Counsel at Brooklyn Defender Services, issued the following statement: 

“By keeping people detained, despite the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus and specific vulnerabilities, the government is putting people’s lives at stake by acting with blatant disregard for their health and well-being. Judge Torres agreed: ‘Respondents have exhibited, and continue to exhibit, deliberate indifference to Petitioners’ medical needs.’ This decision is an important reminder that the government cannot completely disregard people’s humanity and ignore imminent threats without violating the U.S. Constitution.”

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Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a non-profit public defense office in Brooklyn, New York. BDS provides multi-disciplinary and client-centered criminal defense, family defense, immigration and other civil legal services, and social work support to over 30,000 indigent Brooklyn residents every year.