Resource: With Lives of Immigrant Detainees at Risk to COVID-19, Federal Judge Forces ICE's Hand

By: Christopher Zoukis

July 1, 2020

As a result of a ruling June 5, 2020, hundreds of immigrant detainees held by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in south Florida may have to be released. That day a federal judge for the Southern District of Florida agreed the agency was likely “[shuffling] people around the country to make (its) population statistics…look better on paper” and said she remained skeptical that ICE’s commitment to protect them from COVID-19 “has meaningfully shifted since the start of the pandemic.”

The order by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke came a month after she appeared to walk back a two-week deadline she had given ICE to release 1,000 detainees in her original ruling April 30, 2020. The detainees were held in three detention centers in southern Florida: the Krome Detention Center (Krome) in Miami, the Broward Transitional Center (BTC) in Pompano Beach, and the Glades County Detention Center (Glades) in Moore Haven. In her April 30 ruling, Cooke excoriated the agency for a “deliberate indifference” to detainees’ risk of contracting the disease that “amount(s) to cruel and unusual punishment.”