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Federal Judge Orders Release Of Two ICE Detainees Based On COVID-19 Concerns

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Adelanto U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Processing Center. (Chris Carlson/AP)
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A federal judge has ordered the release of two detainees from the Adelanto ICE facility in San Bernardino due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jesselyn Friley, an attorney representing the detainees, said they were taken into custody during an immigration raid. She argued for their release because ICE is failing to protect them against COVID-19.

“The vehicles in which they were transported were not disinfected,” she said. “They were touched by guards who didn't have masks or gloves. They've been around a number of other detainees staff at the detention center and ice officers often in very close quarters.”

According to a statement released by the pro bono law firm Public Counsel, Pedro Bravo Castillo and Luis Vasquez Rueda were detained by ICE on March 16 and 17. They were allegedly “removed from their homes, physically handcuffed, restrained and confined in transport vans and small rooms – without the ICE Agents taking necessary safety and health precautions to avoid COVID-19 transmission.”

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The federal government argued that releases aren't necessary until a COVID-19 case is diagnosed within a detention facility. But Federal District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. ruled that because carriers don't always show symptoms, there's no guarantee the virus is not already present.

“The science is well established – infected, asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus are highly contagious,” he stated in his order.

Friley says the ruling opens the door for other ICE detainees to petition for immediate release.

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