May 6, 2020

Immigrant at risk for COVID-19 complications gets released

Recently, attorney Rosana Moura of Stacer, PLC, succeeded in getting a vulnerable immigrant released from detention in the Calhoun County jail. Our client is a 56-year-old Monroe woman who immigrated legally from Britain at the age of 4. She has health problems that put her at special risk should she develop COVID-19.

At least 100 detainees nationwide have tested positive for Coronavirus, including several in Michigan. Groups including the ACLU have also filed lawsuits seeking the release of people who are at special risk should they get sick with COVID-19. The illness is thought to be especially dangerous to people over age 60 and those with underlying health issues.

Our client was detained on March 4 in connection with some old convictions for misdemeanor shoplifting and retail fraud. Although these were misdemeanors, they threaten her immigration status because they can be considered “crimes of moral turpitude.”

If an immigrant is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, they can be slated for deportation even if they are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). However, no decision on her possible deportation had been made. She was in jail awaiting a hearing when the pandemic arose.

Many immigration detainees have no criminal records at all.

Advocates have also called for increased testing at immigration detention facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This could reveal additional cases of coronavirus among the detainees.

ICE officials say that they are taking steps to protect both detainees and employees during the pandemic and that they are working with state and local health officials to monitor detainees and decrease the spread of the virus. The agency also states that people considered at special risk of COVID-19 complications are being held in separate housing from the general population.

Still, many advocates believe that COVID-19 is likely to run rampant through the detention facilities, which are often local jails. This is because employees and detainees are constantly being moved in and out of the facilities, allowing for the virus to enter. Once it is inside, jail conditions make it virtually impossible to engage in social distancing.

Is your loved one being held in ICE detention? If they are at special risk of complications from COVID-19, it may be possible to get them released, as well. Call an experienced immigration attorney for help.