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Advocates Call for Release of ICE Detainees Amid Egregious Conditions During Coronavirus Outbreak

The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Bronx Defenders  New York City’s defender organizations providing free legal representation to detained immigrants through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) — called for the release of detained immigrants in New York City-area detention facilities operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) amid mounting reports of egregious conditions and a complete lack of basic sanitation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as reported by NJ.com.

In a joint statement released Wednesday, public defenders noted reports that an entire unit of incarcerated immigrants have organized a hunger strike at Essex County Correctional Facility as of Tuesday, March 17, in protest. Many incarcerated people have reported being placed in prolonged isolation, a lack of medical care and are being denied food and access to counsel, among other conditions.  Others have reported a total lack of guidance concerning preventative measures, including things as basic as soap and hand sanitizers.

“The hunger strike just underlines how deeply problematic ICE’s management of the situation is,” the joint statement released by New York City public defenders said. “We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. ICE has done nothing to rise to the occasion but instead continues to put the lives of hundreds of people at risk.”