AURORA, Colo. — Immigrant advocates have sued for the release of 14 detainees being held at the Immigration Customs and Enforcement facility in Aurora, saying the spread of COVID-19 poses a serious risk to their health.
The law firm Arnold & Porter, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) filed the petition in federal court Tuesday.
The suit argued that the 14 detainees have "serious medical vulnerabilities," including some with HIV, that make them susceptible to the effects of COVID-19.
“When people around the world are social distancing, RMIAN’s clients in immigration detention describe conditions where they can reach out and touch the person laying in the bed next to them,” Laura Lunn, managing attorney of the Detention Program at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, said in a news release. “They have no way of creating a shield between themselves and the hundreds of other people at the Aurora facility.”
ICE officials declined to comment on the lawsuit since the case is ongoing litigation.
Two employees at the ICE facility have tested positive for COVID-19. No one in custody at the facility has tested positive.
Across the country, ICE's detained population has dropped by more than 4,000 people since March 1, and the agency said it has taken steps to identify high-risk detainees.
Last week, the ACLU of Colorado, the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar filed petitions to the Colorado Supreme Court to issue a directive to lower courts to lower jail populations and limit the spread of COVID-19. The petitions were denied by the court.