Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warehouses many immigrants in Michigan jails while seeking to deport them from the country. During a pandemic, this practice is not just inhumane, it can be deadly, particularly for people who are older or have medical vulnerabilities. People in jails are crowded together in unsanitary conditions with no ability to socially distance or protect themselves from the virus, and medical care in jails is notoriously inadequate for people with chronic conditions. In 2020 the ACLU sued ICE, arguing that keeping immigrants with vulnerabilities locked up during the pandemic violates their constitutional right to safe conditions of confinement. Judge Judith Levy agreed, certified a class of immigration detainees held at the Calhoun County Jail, and adopted a bail application process to decide whether vulnerable class members should remain locked up there. Over 50 medically frail people were freed through the case. In addition, under pressure from the litigation, ICE and the Calhoun County Jail made significant improvements in conditions, including providing personal protective equipment and offering vaccines. However, in February 2021 a class member died in the jail after his repeated pleas for medical attention were ignored. Although the death was not caused by COVID-19, the records we reviewed revealed that his tragic death was likely preventable had he been provided with proper medical attention. Along with coalition partners we have called for an independent inquiry into medical care at the Calhoun County Jail, and for Calhoun County and ICE to end immigration detention there once and for all. The case against ICE is in settlement negotiations. (Malam v. Adducci; ACLU of Michigan Attorneys Miriam Aukerman, Dan Korobkin, Monica Andrade, Syeda Davidson, Elaine Lewis, Rohit Rajan, and Ramis Wadood; additional attorneys include Anand Balakrishnan, My Khanh Ngo, Eunice Cho, and Michael Tan of the National ACLU and Jeannie Rhee, Mark Mendelson, and associates and counsel from Paul Weiss.)
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