91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

ACLU files class action lawsuit to press for release of ICE detainees

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal class action lawsuit aimed at winning the release of immigrants housed at the Calhoun County jail.

The ACLU estimates there are approximately 130 immigrants being held at the jail for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  According to the ACLU, it’s the largest number of ICE detainees at a facility in Michigan.

The lawsuit argues the detainees are at high risk for serious illness or death in the event of COVID-19 infection. The suit claims the communal living environment at the jail is not conducive to “social distancing.”

“Many people who are detained at Calhoun County Jail have been in the U.S. for years. Some came to escape the violence of their homeland and for a better life,” says Jeannie Rhee, lead counsel for the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. “ICE must act now and release medically vulnerable people from detention so that their hope of living, working and being with their families in the U.S. does not become a death sentence.”

The suit also wants the court to determine how many people can be held in the jail, consistent with social distancing requirements, and order releases unless ICE reduces the jail population to that level.

In the past, ICE has made decisions on release on a case-by-case basis.  The agency says the decisions are based on immigration history, criminal records, ties to the community and other factors.

Correctional facilities in Michigan have been hotbeds for coronavirus infections, with hundreds of inmates testing positive and several dozen deaths.   

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Related Content