In January, 2022, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of five people in ICE detention facilities who are medically vulnerable to severe illness and death in the event of COVID-19 infection, demanding that they be given COVID-19 booster shots. By February 24, 2022, ICE had provided booster shots to each of our plaintiffs, and so we voluntarily dismissed the case. But many medically vulnerable detainees remain in ICE detention facilities and have not received booster shots.
So on March 1, 2022, we filed this class action lawsuit, together with the ACLU’s National Prison Project and Immigrants’ Rights Project, on behalf of people detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who are medically vulnerable to severe illness and death in the event of COVID-19 infection. Each of the four named plaintiffs has been diagnosed with medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and tuberculosis, and each has requested and been denied COVID-19 booster shots. The lawsuit demands that ICE provide booster shots to the plaintiffs and to all medically vulnerable ICE detainees nationwide.
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 a deadly threat to the people locked in ICE detention facilities, where they are More than one out of every 20 people in ICE detention are currently infected with COVID-19 today, and there are likely even more COVID-19 positive detainees due to insufficient testing.
During the four months between November 2021 and February 21, 2022, ICE has provided only 1,436 boosters to people detained in ICE detention facilities, despite holding between 18,800 to 22,000 people on average daily. ICE does not have policies or procedures to ensure that eligible people held in its over 200 detention facilities are identified and 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 on behalf of class members who have disabilities covered by the laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.
UPDATE: On March 11, 2022, we voluntarily dismissed this case because all of our plaintiffs had received their booster shots.