On April 30, 2020 U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke ordered U.S. immigration authorities (ICE) to release hundreds of immigration detainees held at three South Florida detention centers. Judge Cooke cited conditions that amount to ”cruel and unusual punishment.” Hundreds of immigration detainees at south Florida immigration jails have contracted the Coronavirus.
Hundreds of immigration detainees from the following immigration jails will be released: The Krome Detention Center in Miami, The Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, FL and The Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, FL.
In the 12-page order Judge Cooke said:
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has acted with deliberate indifference to the condition of its detainees. There is record evidence demonstrating that ICE has failed in its duty to protect the safety and general well-being of [immigration detainees]. Social distancing at Krome immigration detention center is not only practically impossible, the conditions are becoming worse every day. Further, ICE has failed to provide detainees in some detention centers with masks, soap and other cleaning supplies, and failed to ensure that all detainees housed at the three detention centers can practice social distancing.”
“Such failures amount to cruel and unusual punishment because they are exemplary of deliberate indifference. Accordingly, there is sufficient evidence in this record to determine that the present conditions at the three detention centers constitute a violation of the Petitioners’ Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights. ICE has flouted its own guidelines by failing to ensure that each detainee practices social distancing. Indeed, ICE admits that its actions fall short.”
Judge Cooke ordered ICE to report to her within three days on how it plans to cut its non-criminal and medically vulnerable populations by the hundreds. The judge's order also requires ICE to submit weekly reports on the releases of detainees.
And after 10 days, ICE is required to begin filing twice-weekly reports. Also within two days, ICE is ordered to provide masks to all detainees and replace them once a week.
The judge said that detainees with non-violent criminal records or underlying health conditions who qualify for release can be on parole, telephone monitoring, physical check-ins, or GPS monitoring through electronic ankle bracelets instead of being locked up at jail detention centers.