The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ACLU Statement on Record-Breaking Number of Deaths in ICE Custody

As COVID-19 Continues to Ravage Detention Facilities, FY 2020 is the Deadliest Year Since FY 2005


ICE confirmed the 20th person to die in its detention in Fiscal Year 2020 today. The death of Cipriano Chavez-Alvarez at Stewart Detention Facility in Georgia makes this year the deadliest for people in ICE detention since FY 2005, when 21 people died. FY 2020 is the third deadliest year in ICE's 17-year history -- 28 people died in FY 2004. The fiscal year ends on September 30. Chavez-Alvarez is the third person to die from COVID-19 at Stewart Detention Facility this year.

Since the pandemic began, the ACLU has filed more than 50 lawsuits against ICE detention facilities in states around the country. More than 525 people have been released due to these lawsuits.

Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy at the ACLU, issued the following statement:

"For six months, advocates have been ringing alarm bells about the threat that COVID-19 poses to detained people, as well as staff who work at these facilities and their communities. ICE's handling of this crisis has highlighted the depth of its indifference to the lives of immigrants: from reckless and unnecessary transfers, refusals to provide masks or adequate cleaning supplies, failures to test detained people for COVID, and increased use of force. This deadly pandemic has ushered in one of the deadliest periods in ICE's 17-year history, but it's sadly just a more egregious version of what we've seen for years.

"ICE continues to prove that it cannot be trusted to protect the health, safety, and dignity of detained people -- especially during a deadly pandemic. It must release everyone in detention during this pandemic, or we will continue to see these avoidable tragedies. We must fundamentally divest from this inhumane system, and end the senseless suffering and death it causes."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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