ICE faces lawsuit for not vaccinating detained and sick immigrants

The Government of President Joe Biden denies boosters of the COVID-19 vaccine to five detained migrants and who have been diagnosed with health conditions such as diabetes and tuberculosis, according to a legal complaint filed this Monday.

The Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of the detainees in federal court in the District of Columbia, alleging that the plaintiffs are “vulnerable to serious illness and death in the event of infection” from COVID-19.

The Omicron variant spreads rapidly in detention centers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), said Eunice Cho, an attorney with the ACLU.

“ICE is aware that people with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable to severe illness and death, and that booster shots are very important in protecting against the virus,” he added.

According to the ACLU, since January 3 last coronavirus infections have increased by more than 940% in detention centers, but ICE has given boosters to only 671 people each day.

“Vaccine boosters are available everywhere in the country,” said Arthur Spitzer, another ACLU attorney. “ICE’s failure to provide these reinforcements to detainees reflects callous neglect of the health of those in its custody.”

ICE has some 21,600 people detained, among whom at least 3,110 have tested positive for the coronavirus and are currently isolated or under observation.

Since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago, 37,155 ICE detainees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 11 of them have died from the coronavirus.

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