Montgomery, Ala. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Ben Salk, Senior Staff Attorney, following the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to reverse a federal judge’s April 2020 order, which required Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify and release people with medical risk factors from ICE detention centers across the country, offer vaccinations, and take other steps to protect vulnerable people in its custody from COVID-19.
“We are deeply disappointed the court chose to undo an order that protected the health and saved the lives of tens of thousands of people in ICE detention over the last 18 months. This decision will needlessly put people at risk of serious illness and death.
“Ultimately it is not the courts but the Biden administration that bears responsibility for the suffering, illness, and death that will result from today’s decision. The Biden administration continues to needlessly detain tens of thousands of people and has chosen to fight and appeal every order requiring ICE to show common sense and basic human decency to medically vulnerable immigrants during the pandemic. The Biden administration could release such immigrants but instead chooses to keep them imprisoned.
“Despite today’s setback, we will not be deterred in our fight to secure safe and decent conditions for the tens of thousands of people who remain in detention today and to end the inhumanity of ICE detention.”
The Fraihat v. ICE lawsuit filed by the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in August of 2019 seeks an end to inhumane and traumatic conditions of ICE detention affecting tens of thousands across the country.