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Lawsuit: U.S. Government Should Release Elderly and Vulnerable Immigrants at Highest Coronavirus (COVID-19) Risk

Over the last two months, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has swept across the entire world. It is an incredibly dangerous virus, and the outbreak has led to the cancellation of virtually every large event in the country and has resulted in California closing its bars and restaurants. Governor Gavin Newsom has also called for residents 65 and older to stay home. While most young people are able to deal with the virus, COVID-19 is incredibly dangerous, even life threatening, for older people and immunocompromised people. 

There are very serious concerns being raised about how the United States government is handling vulnerable immigrants who are currently being detained. As reported by CBS News, advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit demanding the immediate release of elderly and otherwise vulnerable immigrants who are being detained in Washington State—the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. 

The Named Plaintiffs are Elderly and/or Suffer From Chronic Health Conditions

One of the most important things to know about COVID-19 is that the implications of infection vary dramatically based on a patient’s age and their medical history. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that older adults (60+) and people with chronic heart and lung conditions are at high risk. For a vulnerable person, contracting the coronavirus may be life threatening. 

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, they name nine plaintiffs—elderly, immunocompromised, or both—who are currently being detained in the Seattle, WA area. The risk to these individuals cannot be overstated: If they contract COVID-19, they are at risk of severe illness or death. 

We Need Action Now: Detention is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

The named plaintiffs represent a larger class of immigrants who are being detained, despite being at high risk. For example, one plaintiff named in the lawsuit is an elderly man from El Salvador who is confined to a wheelchair and requires a colonoscopy bag. One may rightly wonder why this vulnerable, health-compromised individual is being detained in the first place. At this point, it is imperative that action is taken to protect the safety of this man and all other immigrants. 

Prisons and immigration detention centers are high risk areas for a Coronavirus outbreak. If the virus gets into the facility, it is likely to spread rapidly. As explained by ACLU immigration attorney Eunice Cho, It’s a disaster waiting to happen.” The immigrant advocacy groups are seeking a court order confirming that the federal government has a legal obligation to protect elderly and immunocompromised people. They firmly believe that the only way this can be done is ensuring the immediate release of vulnerable immigrants into a safe, isolated location. 

Call a Los Angeles, CA Immigration Attorney for Immediate Help

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are proud to advocate for immigrant rights. Our legal team will listen to your story, understand your needs and objectives, and recommend the best path forward. For a completely confidential, no commitment consultation, please call our Los Angeles law office today at (213) 262-2000