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COVID-19 Updates: SPLC continues fight against injustice

We are only beginning to feel the impacts of the coronavirus, but we know that the communities we serve — including low-income people, immigrants and people of color — are already among the most affected.

As restaurants and businesses across the country are shutting their doors, more and more people are suddenly without paychecks. Families may not be able to put food on their tables. School closures are affecting millions of children who may go hungry without free and reduced-price school meals. And people who are sick may be afraid to seek treatment because they are among the 27.5 million in the United States who do not have health coverage.

Our work, and the work of partner organizations, is needed now more than ever. We are joining hundreds of organizations from across the country to demand that local, state and federal officials safeguard families and people who may be most impacted by the crisis and establish protocols to help keep them safe and healthy.

Some of our work includes: 

SPLC Action
Get involved! SPLC Action has sent a number of emails calling on lawmakers and leaders to take action by establishing precautions to protect people from the impacts of COVID-19. Learn more.

June 17, 2020
A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement a number of measures to protect detained people’s access to counsel in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the press release here.

June 4, 2020
The SPLC published a report examining how Alabama’s Bureau of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) granted only 15 paroles out of 160 cases in May, despite persistent calls from advocates to reduce the state’s prison population in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SPLC found that though 51% of the potential parolees in May were Black and 47% were white, of the 15 people granted parole in May, 11 were white and four were Black. The SPLC also examined the BPP’s designation of some potential parolees as “violent offenders,” a status that is always included with the board’s hearing results. The findings revealed that nearly one third of those deemed “violent” were given the designation either because of offenses categorized as violent by state law – but in reality have little or no violent element – or prior prison terms. Experts said the BPP could hear many more cases and that the BPP's current process for considering parole is not clear.

May 26, 2020
After Santiago Baten-Oxlaj became the second known person to die from COVID-19 under the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the SPLC's Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) director, Laura Rivera, issued this statement.

May 21, 2020
The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement regarding the indefinite extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order sanctioning the summary expulsion of unaccompanied children and asylum seekers without any due process.

May 20, 2020
The SPLC joined with the Fair Elections Center and Arnold & Porter to file a federal lawsuit against Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, and other officials over the state’s lack of safe and accessible voting processes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit challenges Louisiana’s burdensome requirements surrounding absentee ballots – specifically the excuse requirement, witness requirement, and cure prohibition. These measures put voters’ – particularly older voters’ and African Americans’ – health and lives at risk. The lawsuit requests a federal court waive these requirements for elections throughout 2020, expand the pool of Louisiana voters who can take advantage of absentee balloting, and instruct the state to create a system by which voters can correct, or “cure”, any problems with mail-in ballots so they can be properly counted. Addressing these election processes throughout 2020 is particularly important for older voters, voters with disabilities, and African American voters, who have been severely and disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

May 19, 2020
The Southern Poverty Law Center released a new survey to examine the range of issues facing students and families during the COVID-19 crisis. Take the survey and find resources for families and educators here.

May 15, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund issued a statement on the U.S. House of Representatives passing the HEROES Act, aimed at addressing the country's public health and economic needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

May 15, 2020
The Southern Poverty Law Center sued in Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit asking the court to compel the Florida Department of Corrections to comply with two public records requests, which were made on March 20 and March 25. They requested information from FDC about its policies to deal with COVID-19 in Florida’s bloated prison system. Read the press release here.

May 14, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund issued a statement urging Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which takes an important step toward healing the communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

May 13, 2020
The SPLC published a story about a transgender woman in immigrant detention who is a class member in a federal lawsuit filed by the SPLC and ACLU of Louisiana challenging the lack of parole cases being granted by the ICE New Orleans Field Office.

May 11, 2020
The SPLC published a story about its efforts to keep children out of juvenile detention centers during the pandemic.

May 8, 2020
This week, the SPLC Action Fund joined partner organizations in sending letters to governors and top education officials in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi urging them to use the millions of dollars their state is receiving under the CARES Act to eliminate education inequities and support children and families disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 school closures.

May 8, 2020
The SPLC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta filed a motion for preliminary injunction in their lawsuit seeking the immediate release of medically susceptible individuals in the custody of ICE at Folkston ICE Processing Center in Georgia. 

May 7, 2020
The SPLC filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in its lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security's unlawful denial of detained immigrants' constitutional right to sufficient and reliable legal counsel.

May 6, 2020
The SPLC issued a statement condemning the federal government for failing to protect immigrant lives after the first reported death of an individual in ICE custody from COVID-19.

May 6, 2020
The SPLC published a Hatewatch blog documenting how the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC) is pushing widespread conspiracy theories about the myth of voter fraud.

May 4, 2020
In a letter, the SPLC Action Fund and other education advocates urged state leaders in Mississippi to use the millions of dollars the state is receiving in federal emergency funding to advance equity and support children and families disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 school closures.

May 1, 2020
​The SPLC joined with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) to file a federal lawsuit against Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Secretary of State John Merrill, and others over the state’s lack of safe and accessible voting processes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit is asking a federal court to overturn the requirements that a notary or two witnesses sign an absentee ballot and that voters include a physical photocopy of a photo ID with that absentee ballot as well as the prohibition on curbside voting at polling locations. Addressing these election processes throughout 2020 is particularly important for older voters, voters with disabilities, and African American voters, who have been severely and disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

April 30, 2020
U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke issued an order requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to begin the process of releasing hundreds of people from three South Florida detention centers after the SPLC filed a lawsuit on April 13.

April 30, 2020
The SPLC, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, and the law firm of Blume & Blume filed a petition asking the Alabama Supreme Court to order the state’s lower courts to immediately act to decrease the number of children ordered to detention, correctional and other residential facilities in Alabama, and require facilities housing remaining youth observe preventative measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

April 30, 2020
The SPLC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta filedmotion for preliminary injunction in their lawsuit seeking the immediate release of medically susceptible individuals in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA and Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, GA. 

April 29, 2020
The SPLC issued a statement on the Trump administration’s executive order using the Defense Production Act to target people working at poultry and meat processing plants.

April 29, 2020
As part of the Attention on Detention series, the SPLC shared the story of Silvio Urbina Rojas, who feared death from COVID-19 while detained by ICE.

April 27, 2020
The SPLC published a Hatewatch blog explaining how protests against state-imposed stay-at-home orders have exploded across the country and attracted a wide array of right-wing supporters, including the Proud Boys.

April 24, 2020
The SPLC published a Hatewatch blog citing a report that two officials with ties to anti-immigrant hate groups helped write President Trump’s executive order blocking the issuance of new green cards.

April 22, 2020
The SPLC published a story about Dave Thomas, the first person to die in the Alabama Department of Corrections after testing positive for COVID-19. 

April 22, 2020
The SPLC joined with dozens of other civil rights groups to urge the judiciary to protect our civil and human rights, provide justice for all, and ensure our democracy works for all.

April 22, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund once again submitted written testimony to the Louisiana House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs highlighting how the newly-drafted Secretary of State emergency election plan falls further behind than the first in protecting public health and ensuring ballot access to everyone in the state amidst the coronavirus crisis.  When the Louisiana Senate and House Committees ultimately approved the plan, the SPLC Action Fund issued a statement emphasizing the state was risking the health of voters needlessly.

April 22, 2020
Despite having one of the the fastest growing economies and populations in the nation, the Deep South faces unique threats during the COVID-19 crisis. The SPLC Action Fund sent a detailed letter to members of Congress highlighting the need for federal action that specifically addresses the needs of people in South. 

April 21, 2020
In the midst of the current pandemic, anti-immigrant hate groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and VDARE have seized every opportunity to politicize public health and demonize immigration. But as a recent Hatewatch report outlines, these tactics are nothing new for the anti-immigrant movement.

April 21, 2020
SPLC Action joined a coalition of nearly 40 immigrant rights organizations to call on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state leaders to answer for the lack of federally funded emergency resources made available to limited-English proficiency individuals throughout Florida as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the state.

April 20, 2020
A federal judge ordered ICE to conduct new assessments and consider the release of every person in immigrant detention who are at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The ruling was made after the SPLC, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Orrick LLP and Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP filed for an emergency preliminary injunction on March 25.

April 20, 2020
SPLC Action issued a statement responding to COVID-19-related deaths of incarcerated people in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. These deaths have occurred while all four states have resisted efforts to significantly reduce their prison populations, and have also ignored or been slow to respond to calls to publicly reveal their plans for how they will handle a coronavirus outbreak in their prisons.

April 17, 2020
The SPLC sent a follow-up letter with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to ensure ballot access for all Alabama voters during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic after he failed to respond to our first letter on the matter.

April 16, 2020
A person incarcerated at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman has died of COVID-19  —  the first known person in the state’s prison system to die from the virus. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Mississippi prisons and jails, SPLC Action has called on state officials to release people who are at high-risk of contracting the virus, including the elderly and those with medical conditions; those who are within a year of completing their sentences; and those who are locked up for misdemeanor crimes and other non-violent offenses. State of Mississippi officials, however, have refused to release people from facilities that are severely understaffed, dirty and decrepit, and where social distancing is not an option.

April 15, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund submitted written testimony to the Louisiana House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs highlighting how the Secretary of State emergency election plan falls short in protecting public health and ensuring ballot access to everyone in the state amidst the coronavirus crisis.  When the Louisiana Senate Committee on House and Governmental Affairs failed to give the plan an up or down vote, the SPLC Action Fund issued a statement emphasizing the state was hurtling toward a Wisconsin-like election.

April 14, 2020
Incarcerated individuals in Louisiana, many of whom have not been convicted of a crime, are being moved to the Louisiana State Penitentiary (commonly called Angola) to be housed in Camp J. Camp J was designed as a punishment camp for prisoners serving sentences of life without parole. It is a notoriously inhumane facility that was closed in 2018 due to its poor conditions. The Promise of Justice Initiative (PJI) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed suit in federal court in Baton Rouge challenging the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ treatment of these incarcerated patients. Read the press release here

April 13, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund joined with over two dozen other Florida-based organizations to send a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Secretary of State Laurel Lee, state legislators, and county supervisors of elections on how to hold previously scheduled 2020 elections without disenfranchising citizens or needlessly endangering public health.

The SPLC sent a letter along with civil rights groups with work in Mississippi to Secretary of State Michael Watson act quickly to prevent the violation of the fundamental right to vote of all eligible Mississippi voters during the current public health crisis by expanding absentee ballot voting, implementing online voter registration, and additional other measures.

April 13, 2020
SPLC Action signed onto a letter calling on Congress to include resources for refugees in future COVID-19 relief packages.

April 13, 2020
The SPLC with the University of Miami School of Law's immigration clinic, Rapid Defense Network, Legal Aid Service of Broward County and the law firm of Prada Urizar, PLLC, filed a lawsuit demanding the release of immigrants confined to Florida's deadly detention centers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 10, 2020
The SPLC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta issued a statement after a judge denied a request to release people detained in south Georgia immigrant detention centers who have pre-existing conditions making them especially susceptible to COVID-19.

April 10, 2020
Earlier this week SPLC Action Fund joined multiple civil rights organizations in demanding that state and local governments in the South act immediately to protect incarcerated adults and juveniles, as well as correctional employees, by releasing people who are locked up and taking additional precautions against the virus. Read the press release here.

April 10, 2020
The SPLC published a Know Your Rights flier for workers in the South to demand protections from COVID-19. En EspañolAn kreyòl.

April 9, 2020
Hatewatch released a blog on anti-immigrant hate groups — including those with connections to policy makers such as Stephen Miller and Chris Cuccinelli — calling for the continued detention of immigrants and asylum seekers despite deteriorating health conditions at ICE facilities. 

April 8, 2020
Members of the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform have previously called on Florida officials to ensure that the health and safety of people in jails,  prisons and immigrant detention centers in the Deep South are being protected from the virus, and release those people most at risk of suffering serious complications or death. The coalition is now calling for every effort to be made to get people out of jails and prisons as quickly as possible. Read the press release here.

April 7, 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic shining a spotlight on the lack of fundamental protections in place for food supply chain workers in the South, SPLC Action published a document providing background on why state and federal leaders must adopt robust structural reforms to support and protect those workers. SPLC Action also issued a statement of solidarity with food supply chain workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

April 6, 2020
Over the weekend, AL.com reported on a 263-page Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) plan that outlined dire measures in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 - calling in the National Guard, forcing incarcerated people to manufacture protective equipment, and preparing for mass deaths. Faced with a choice between releasing the people most at-risk of contracting COVID-19 or keeping them warehoused, ADOC plans to order 312 body bags. Read the press release here.

April 3, 2020
The SPLC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta filed a lawsuit seeking the immediate release of a group of people held at three immigrant detention centers in south Georgia where they are at great risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their health. The lawsuit warns of a catastrophe at the privately operated detention centers, notorious for substandard conditions, as well as the surrounding communities, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fails to take meaningful action to safeguard the health of these detained people.

April 3, 2020
The SPLC published a story about detained immigrants across the Deep South who feel like "sitting ducks" as ICE ignores their safety amid a global pandemic.

April 3, 2020
The SPLC issued this statement following a federal judge’s denial of a temporary restraining order requested by SPLC, Innovation Law Lab (Law Lab), Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and Santa Fe Dreamers Project, with pro bono assistance from the Perkins Coie law firm, to establish protective measures to ensure that the rights of immigration court respondents are not jeopardized during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 2, 2020
The SPLC published an analysis showing that more than 1,100 people age 65 or older are locked away in Alabama prisons, putting a group already highly susceptible to the deadly COVID-19 virus at an even greater risk.

April 2, 2020
Katrina Huber, who works as a coordinator for the SPLC’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, writes about her visits to an immigrant detention center in Pine Prairie, Louisiana, and the fight for immigrant rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 1, 2020 
The SPLC and its partners appeared before a federal court seeking a temporary restraining order mandating that immigration courts take appropriate measures to protect immigrants, attorneys, court staff and the public from COVID-19 without endangering the rights of people in removal proceedings.

March 31, 2020
The SPLC and the ACLU of Louisiana filed an emergency motion for preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking the immediate release of asylum seekers who remain under the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) amid the spread of COVID-19 in ICE detention centers. 

March 30, 2020
Hatewatch released a blog on how SPLC-designated hate group League of the South is continuing to plan its annual conference in June despite the CDC’s recommendations against gatherings of 10 or more people. 

March 30,  2020
With multiple corrections officials testing positive for COVID-19 in Florida, SPLC Action, along with its partners with the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform have called for state officials to begin a serious effort at reducing the prison population in Florida for both public health and humanitarian reasons. This call comes weeks after SPLC Action and other members of the CCJR coalition called on Florida officials to ensure that the health and safety of people in jails, prisons and immigrant detention centers in the Deep South are being protected from the virus, and release those people most at risk of suffering serious complications or death.

March 27, 2020
The SPLC, along with Innovation Law Lab, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and Santa Fe Dreamers Project and pro bono assistance from Perkins Coie law firm filed for an emergency temporary restraining order challenging the reckless operation of the immigration courts despite the current public health crisis. We are seeking an order to require immigration courts to adopt policies and procedures that protect public health and preserve immigrants’ rights. 

March 27, 2020
“More work must be done to ensure everyone will be able to weather this crisis,” urged SPLC Action Fund Interim President and CEO Karen-Baynes-Dunning in a statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill to address the global COVID-19 pandemic.

March 26, 2020
Hatewatch released a blog outlining how white supremacists believe that the intense uncertainty surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 will aid their ability to recruit new members into their movement by exploiting collective anxiety over a public health and economic crisis. 

March 26, 2020
Following passage of a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill by the U.S. Senate, SPLC Action Fund issued a statement urging congressional leaders to take additional steps in the coming days to develop policies that address the needs of all.

March 25, 2020
SPLC and its litigation partner organizations Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and Disability Rights Advocates filed an emergency motion for preliminary injunction in federal court seeking immediate medical protections and release for people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The preliminary injunction is being requested as part of an existing class action lawsuit, Fraihat v. ICE, on behalf of the nearly 40,000 people jailed in ICE detention facilities throughout ICE’s detention system.

March 25, 2020
SPLC issued a statement in response to expansion of voter suppression in Alabama after Gov. Kay Ivey's comments regarding no-excuse absentee balloting during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

March 24, 2020
SPLC Action joined 44 other organizations in signing a letter urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state agencies to protect Florida’s safety net — programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Reemployment Assistance (RA), and the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

March 24, 2020
In response to the first individual in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody to test positive for COVID-19, SPLC issued a statement once again calling on ICE to release people from ICE detention.

March 24, 2020
Hatewatch released a blog about a March 17 letter to President Trump asking him to investigate China for its alleged role in spreading the novel coronavirus and hiding its origins. The letter was signed by a litany of conservative groups and figures, including members of anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ hate groups, as well as those involved in antigovernment groups, continuing to push the anti-China coronavirus rhetoric.

March 23, 2020
While immigrant and low-wage workers are literally on the front lines – stocking groceries, cleaning our hospitals, providing care for our most vulnerable – and exposing themselves and their families to the coronavirus, the proposed economic stimulus package completely fails to include them. The SPLC Action Fund released a statement calling for the relief bill to include both testing and treatment for all regardless of immigration status and meaningful elements to provide for these workers. This illness doesn’t discriminate; neither should we.

March 23, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund released a statement urging Senate leaders to back away from a harmful provision under its coronavirus stimulus plan that creates a pathway for U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to have broad power to disregard important federal requirements for schools, including laws protecting students with disabilities and low-income students.

March 23, 2020
SPLC joined over 100 other organizations in a letter to the federal immigration court system calling for the prioritization of the health and safety of government employees, detained individuals, and their legal representatives amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 23, 2020
Hatewatch released a blog that examines how the Trump administration is using the COVID-19 pandemic to stop asylum-seekers from entering the US from the southern border and the nativist policy behind it that anti-immigrant hate groups have been pushing for years.

March 21, 2020
Following the release of our 2019 Year in Hate and Extremism report, we published a piece on our website by Western State Center Executive Director Eric Ward about the rise of hate and xenophobia amid the coronavirus stoked by Donald Trump. 

March 20, 2020
Teaching Tolerance provided educators with lessons and resources to continue teaching students online amid school closures.

As more and more schools close, parents and guardians of school-aged children and teenagers are now finding themselves serving as both caregiver and teacher. www.Tolerance.org provides a number of helpful resources and links, including how to address racismtalking to children about COVID-19 and countless other educational tools that may be helpful during this time. 

March 20, 2020
We responded to President Trump’s continued use of racist and xenophobic language by calling the coronavirus the "Chinese virus."

March 20, 2020
We responded to the Trump administration’s reckless response to the pandemic and the first confirmed cases of Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees testing positive for COVID-19.

March 19, 2020
We joined NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc, Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) in a letter to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill urging him to develop guidance and administrative rules enabling every eligible voter in Alabama access to vote in the upcoming primary runoff election – now scheduled for July 14 – amid the pandemic.

March 19, 2020
We joined nearly 600 organizations to call on governors, mayors, utility regulators, rural electric cooperative, public power and water utility boards to take steps to implement a moratorium on all electricity and water utility shut-offs, waiver of all late-payment charges, and reinstitution of any services that have already been cut off due to nonpayment.

We further urged implementation of policies that promote clean energy systems and that establish percentage-of-income payment plans for water and other utility services, which enhance the long-term energy and climate resilience for all low-income families, communities and tribes across the country.

March 19, 2020
SPLC Action joined a coalition of Florida LGBTQ leaders in a conversation to help guide collective advocacy in addressing the needs and challenges of the LGBTQ community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 19, 2020
While the COVID-19 health crisis continues to unfold, we are seeing legislators across the country pushing through bills when they think no one is looking, including the Idaho Legislature that on March 18 sent a bill banning transgender youth from participating in sports to Gov. Brad Little for signing. SPLC Action joined dozens of organizations on March 19 to call on Little to veto the bill, which would be the first ban of its kind in the country.

March 18, 2020
We responded to reports that the Trump administration plans to turn back asylum seekers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 17, 2020
We worked to ensure that the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic addresses the needs of people and families in the South and that no one is left out at this crucial time. We were among hundreds of organizations that demanded that the U.S. Senate pass the Families First Coronavirus Act. Late on Wednesday, President Trump signed the bill that provides workers with paid sick days and emergency leave, helping them and their employers slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Families First Coronavirus Act also provides needed funding to states for nutrition programs and Medicaid, expands unemployment insurance for people facing illness-related job loss and increases access to testing and health care for people who have or may have COVID-19. The bill doesn’t do everything people need and it doesn’t cover everyone that it should. We will continue our advocacy efforts to ensure that Congress fills these gaps and that additional funding will go to support communities in need.

March 17, 2020
The SPLC Action Fund joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Voting Rights Task Force and dozens of organizations to make recommendations to members of Congress, governors, and state election officials on how to expand access to the ballot box in response to COVID-19’s enormous threat to public safety. To ensure voting is fair, safe, and accessible, state and federal officials should be working to: provide options for voters who cannot register in person or vote in person on election day at their polling place, allow online and same-day voter registration, implement or expand early voting, and implement or expand no-excuse absentee or vote-by-mail programs.

March 16, 2020
We partnered with dozens of organizations to call on state officials in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida to ensure that the health and safety of people in jails and prisons — where they do not have the freedom to practice social distancing — in the Deep South are being protected from the virus, and release those people most at risk of suffering from serious complications or death.

In a series of letters to AlabamaLouisianaMississippi and Florida officials, the coalition of civil rights and social justice organizations called on states to immediately develop evidence-based protocols and proactively plan the prevention and management of a coronavirus outbreak.

The coalitions also asked that the states comply with national public health care guidelines, educate both staff and the people detained in state and federal facilities on the dangers of the virus and how to avoid contracting it, keep infected staff out of facilities and isolate individuals who have tested positive, avoid lockdowns, regularly screen and test all individuals in the facility and those who work there, ensure free and accessible phone communication with family members and confidential access to legal counsel, and release elderly people and others who are at a high risk.

March 13, 2020
The SPLC’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative team members remain at the frontlines, working alongside asylum seekers and immigrants to achieve justice in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers and courtrooms. 

We collaborated with the Americans for Immigrant Justice, Project South and Asian Americans Advancing Justice to ask that facilities run by private prisons under ICE supervision in Florida, Louisiana and Georgia disclose all of the protocols that are being used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and grant release of all individuals who are at high risk of serious effects from the virus.

In a letter to ICE, we argued that “this is a public health emergency” and called for the immediate end of all facility-to-facility transfers to prevent the spread of the virus, tests of the current population in ICE custody and all people entering ICE custody exhibiting symptoms or risk factors, provide proper hygienic supplies at all detention and check-in facilities, and allow legal workers visiting detained people to bring gloves and disinfecting wipes into visitation rooms.

Team members are reporting dangerous conditions at detention facilities, including at Pine Prairie in Louisiana, where there is a lack of soap and hand sanitizer for the people detained there. The pandemic has greatly complicated the immigration court system as well. With unclear directive from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the decision to close courts has been left to individual judges. This inconsistency contradicts the recommendations of public health experts and puts immigrants, their families, attorneys and immigration judges at risk. 

As the COVID-19 health crisis continues to unfold, an increasing number of people and families are seeking national and regional resources for information about the pandemic and where they can find support. Here is a list of resources that includes information about the coronavirus, assistance paying bills, accessing healthcare if you are undocumented and finding information about local food banks..

This is just a snapshot of our work as the SPLC’s staff continues to telework. As we take greater precautions during this time, we are more committed than ever to fight alongside the communities we serve and partner organizations to ensure equal access to justice.  

We are stronger working together. 

Photo by AP Images/Elaine Thompson