Legal Aid Society


NYIFUP Clients Report COVID-19 Outbreak in ICE Detention

The Legal Aid Society, along with the Bronx Defenders and Brooklyn Defender Services, are sounding the alarm in response to reports by individuals in ICE custody of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak in Orange County Correctional Facility, as reported by City Limits.

New York City’s defender organizations who provide free legal representation to detained immigrants through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) have heard from clients who say at least 50 people are reportedly symptomatic in one unit, and jail officials have repeatedly failed to provide access to vaccination and take appropriate quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to Jose Luis who is currently incarcerated at the Orange County facility, “The quarantine section is full, and there are a lot of sick people everywhere. Correction officers are letting people out of the intake process without knowing their COVID-19 results, so you don’t know who’s sick and who isn’t. We are waiting so long for medical care. I am trying to stay safe by just lying alone in my bed in my cell, but I feel like soon I’ll become a vegetable, I’m becoming weaker by the day.”

“It is unacceptable that people at Orange County Correctional Facility are denied adequate medical care while the coronavirus is surging within the walls of the detention facility, a statement from NYIFUP reads in part. “Detaining people in already inhumane conditions–now overwhelmed with Omicron which is known to be much more transmissible–poses a grave threat to the health of those in immigration custody.”

“This outbreak underscores the flagrant lack of measures in place to protect incarcerated individuals, and how this negligence puts the health and safety of everyone in immigration detention at risk every day,” the statement continues “Moreover, we condemn the lack of transparency from jail officials and from ICE. Their refusal to provide critical information about how they are addressing the outbreak and the jail’s quarantine policy is unacceptable.”