The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today on behalf of immigrants detained in Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, New Mexico. The ACLU seeks the release of three individuals who, as a result of underlying medical conditions, are at high risk for serious illness or death in the event of COVID-19 infection. The legal complaint argues that continuing to detain them in civil immigration detention despite serious risk to their health and safety amounts to punishment and violates their due process rights.
The filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico includes testimony from the three immigrant detainees who suffer from underlying medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which the CDC has warned puts people at higher risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19. Otero County Processing Center, where all three individuals are detained, already has two known cases of the virus. The ACLU’s clients, along with several other immigrant detainees, have complained that the facility is overcrowded and lacks access to basic sanitation supplies necessary for protecting against infection.