On January 31, 2022, we filed this lawsuit, together with the ACLU’s National Prison Project and Immigrants’ Rights Project, on behalf of five medically vulnerable people detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who have requested and been denied COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. The lawsuit demands that ICE provide booster shots to the plaintiffs, who have been diagnosed with medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and tuberculosis, and who are vulnerable to severe illness and death in the event of infection.
Along with the complaint, we filed an application for a Temporary Restraining Order asking that our clients be given booster shots immediately.
Since March 2020, COVID-19 has posed an existential threat to the people locked in ICE detention facilities, where they are routinely denied access to timely and adequate medical care and forced to live in crowded housing units. The threat to people detained in ICE detention facilities continues to grow as new variants emerge.
Since Jan. 3, 2022, COVID-19 infections have increased by more than 940 percent in ICE detention centers. Yet according to the most recently available data, ICE has administered booster shots to only 671 of the approximately 22,000 people detained in ICE custody nationwide each day. Based on ICE’s most recent numbers, approximately 14 percent of people in ICE detention have currently tested positive for COVID-19. ICE does not have policies or procedures to ensure that eligible people held in its over 200 detention facilities are identified or are provided a booster shot.
In addition to a claim that ICE is violating the constitutional rights of our clients, the complaint also asserts a claim of disability discrimination and a claim that ICE is failing to follow its own regulations, which require detention facilities to abide by CDC guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By February 24, 2022, ICE had provided booster shots to each of our plaintiffs, and so we voluntarily dismissed the case.
The complaint is online here.
The application for a temporary restraining order is here.
The Notice of Voluntary Dismissal is here.