The ACLU of Texas, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and ACLU National filed a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials on behalf of four immigrants detained in Conroe, Texas at the ICE Montgomery Processing Center (MPC).
The lawsuit seeks the immediate release of the plaintiffs, all of whom are highly vulnerable to serious illness and death from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The suit follows news of an employee at the center who tested positive for the virus in March 2020.
This complaint joins more than 20 others filed by the ACLU across the nation. Most courts have issued rulings saying that ICE must release vulnerable civil detainees, because they cannot be subject to detention conditions as the threat of novel coronavirus exists.
Update 4/17/20: The court ordered the immediate release of one of the immigrants because of the threat of serious illness or death from COVID-19 if she remained in ICE detention. This is the first court order in Texas requiring an immigration detainee’s immediate release due to the danger of COVID-19. Two of the other plaintiffs have also been released from ICE detention.
Update 4/29/20: The plaintiffs amended the lawsuit. The new complaint adds four plaintiffs detained at MPC who are also highly vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID-19. It additionally seeks the release of all people detained at MPC who are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their underlying medical conditions and/or their age, as a class action.
Update 5/1/20: After we filed the amended complaint with additional plaintiffs, ICE released two of the new plaintiffs from MPC.
Update 10/30/20: The court approved a bail process to evaluate individual applications for release from MPC pending the outcome of the case. As a result, three more clients have been released. The court noted that this same bail process could be used for continued intervention on behalf of other people vulnerable to COVID-19 detained at MPC.