*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

California Federal Judge: Lack of Social Distancing a Serious Problem at Immigration Detention Facilities

According to a report from CBS KPIX San Francisco Bay Area, United States District Court judge Vince Chhabria has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide comprehensive information regarding the social distancing protocols at two California-based detention centers: 

  • Yuba County Jail (Marysville, CA); and
  • Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center (Bakersfield, CA). 

After additional details and clarification are provided, Judge Chhabria will preside over multiple weeks of bail hearings—potentially ordering the release of hundreds of detainees. Below, our California immigration bond lawyer provides a more in-depth overview of the ruling from the federal judge. 

Hundreds of Detainees Face a “Significant Risk of Harm” from the Coronavirus

In reviewing the complaint raised by immigration activists on behalf of the detainees, District Court Judge Chhabria determined that many immigrants are currently being placed at a “significant risk of harm” as a consequence of ICE’s underdeveloped and poorly executed social distancing practices. Specifically, he cites the fact that:  

  • Detained immigrants are being forced to sleep in barracks style dorm rooms, resting within an arm’s reach of each other

Under the terms of the federal court order, ICE must provide additional information regarding what it has done to practice social distancing at the Yuba County Jail and Mesa Verde Processing Center and the agency must provide details related to the health status and criminal history (or lack thereof) of each detainee. 

The Court Will Consider the Release of Individual Detainees

Over the next couple of weeks, the federal court will be assessing the cases of individual detainees at both locations. CBS KPIX reports that as many as 400 detainees may eventually be released from these two detention facilities. Additionally, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether an injunction is needed to require ICE to take some specific steps to increase social distancing at Yuba County or Mesa Verde and protect people from COVID-19. In reviewing the individual cases, the court will consider several different factors, including: 

  • Vulnerability: COVID-19 poses a very serious health risk to older adults and people who have underlying health issues. The court wants to review detainee medical information to determine who is at the highest level of risk. Vulnerable immigrants may be freed on humanitarian grounds.  
  • Reason for Detention: The court will also consider each detainee’s reason for being held. Immigrants who have no criminal history—meaning they are being held solely for a civil immigration hearing—may be released. 

If your loved one is being held in an ICE detention facility in California and you have questions about getting them released to protect their health and safety, we encourage you to consult with an experienced attorney. 

Contact Our Los Angeles Immigration Bond Attorneys for Immediate Help

At the office of Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our California immigration lawyer has the skills, experience to handle immigration bond cases. We are open and strictly following all applicable health and safety guidelines. Call our Los Angeles office today for a fully remote initial consultation. We represent clients throughout the entire region, including in Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Carson, Lakewood, Fullerton, and Yorba Linda.

Josh Goldstein
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