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Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health

Fraihat v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Overview

Fraihat v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (U.S.District Court – Central District of California, April 20, 2020): A California district court ordered Immigration and Customs (ICE) to identify and track detainees with COVID-19 risk factors and make timely custody determinations. The court certified subclasses of all persons detained in ICE custody who have risk factors or disabilities that place them at heighted risk of COVID-19 severe illness or death. The subclasses partly argued that ICE’s COVID-19 response constitutes “medical indifference” and “punitive conditions of confinement” via the 5th Amendment. Risks of infectious diseases in detention centers are heightened as social distancing is “often impossible,” facilities often lack resources to diagnose and/or treat conditions, and incarcerated persons are more likely to have chronic underlying conditions. In many cases detention conditions consisted of an absence of accessible information on COVID-19, staff not wearing—and detainees not being provided with—personal protective equipment, and group confinement of numerous detainees with or without COVID-19 symptoms. At the time of the court’s order, several detention centers had confirmed COVID-19 cases. ICE was ordered to define minimum acceptable detention conditions for detainees with risk factors to ensure detainees are confined in constitutionally permissible conditions of detention. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 1, 2020.

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