Civil rights groups sue ICE over conditions at NY detention facility


Buffalo Federal Detention Facility. (Courtesy WROC)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Civil rights groups sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Monday, saying the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility is failing to impose social distancing rules to protect individuals held on civil immigration charges during the coronavirus outbreak.

The New York Civil Liberties Union and Prisoners Legal Services of New York made their complaints known in a federal lawsuit in Buffalo that seeks class action status to protect individuals held at the Batavia, New York, lockup who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

The lawsuit demands that authorities comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as they treat medically at-risk people in the facility.

According to the lawsuit, at least 49 of 319 people detained at the lockup on April 25 had tested positive for the coronavirus, representing a 1,200% growth in infections since April 9 and making it one of the worsthit ICE detention centers nationwide.

A message for comment was left with the Justice Department in Washington.

The lawsuit claims that the federal government has failed to obey a federal court order requiring it to implement protective measures for over a dozen detainees who were identified as being vulnerable to the coronavirus. It included a lawsuit filed in March on behalf of 23 detainees that resulted in the judge’s order as Exhibit A for its lawsuit.

The new lawsuit estimates that over 100 individuals detained at the facility are medically vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The lawsuit asked a judge to force ICE to fix the “unlawful and dangerously incomplete COVID-19 policy” at the Buffalo facility.

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