The ACLU of NM and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine asylum-seekers formerly detained at the Torrance County Detention Center as well as the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, a non-profit that advocates for immigrants and refugees detained in New Mexico.

One year prior to our filing, guards at the privately run CoreCivic facility sprayed our clients with chemical agents after they engaged in a peaceful hunger strike protesting inadequate precautions against COVID-19, poor living conditions, and the withholding of status updates on their immigration cases. Several of the individual plaintiffs contracted COVID-19 and tested positive within days of the chemical attack. Two of the plaintiffs, who have a history of mental illness, attempted suicide in the aftermath of the incident. 

Protecting refugees and providing asylum is embedded in our laws and morals as an expression of our commitment to welcome those who come to the U.S. seeking safety and freedom. Subjecting people fleeing persecution to further harm and violence runs counter to our laws and values as a nation.

We brought this lawsuit not only to obtain justice for our clients, but to hold those responsible accountable for their abuse and negligence so that they cannot continue to harm -- without consequence -- the most vulnerable among us.

Date filed

May 14, 2021