A class-action lawsuit has been filed against ICE officials at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia by the New York Civil Liberties Union and Prisoners Legal Services of New York.
The lawsuit demands officials at the detention facility administer the protective guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to all of its medically at-risk detainees in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, in the case of Jones v. Wolf, a federal judge ordered the facility to provide protections to those at-risk individuals named in the lawsuit.
However, NYCLU Staff Attorney Bobby Hodgson said because of the communal setting of the facility, those protections should extend to all at-risk detainees in the detention center.
“We bring this lawsuit now because ICE has refused to ensure that it’s going to provide those same protections to everyone,” he said. “Having an ad hoc approach that provides those protections only to people who can find a lawyer, or manage to be otherwise identified to a lawyer, who then brings the case to ICE, that’s not the way to provide people with life saving protection.”
Hodgson said ICE is the only entity within its facility with the ability to identify who may be at-risk and provide the necessary protections.
“Those protections include very basic things,” he said. “Making sure they are in a single-occupancy housing, instead of being forced to bunk with someone else. Making sure they can maintain six feet of distance between them and other people. Having free access to soap and other cleaning supplies, and making sure they can eat and shower without having to come into contact with other people.”
Hodgson said numbers reported on ICE’s public website showed a jump in positive cases over the course of April. He worries there may now be more positive cases, just not yet publicly reported.
Attempts from WBFO to reach ICE for comment were unsuccessful.