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Released From Prison to ICE Detention in Pandemic, 4 Men Now Seek Damages

Four men who were set to be released from California prisons earlier this year but were instead handed over to federal immigration authorities for potential deportation are seeking thousands of dollars in damages from the state.

The claims, filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Asian Law Caucus, seek over $25,000 for each of the former inmates, who allege they have suffered harms and higher health risks from COVID-19 while locked up at immigration detention centers that faced outbreaks.

The claimants include an American citizen who was erroneously held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after being released from state prison, according to the filings, and a father of two originally from the Philippines who became seriously ill after contracting COVID-19 at an ICE facility in Bakersfield.

Their cases may be the first to challenge the state’s so-called ICE transfers as illegal and even negligent during the pandemic, said ACLU attorney Vasudha Talla.

“CDCR officials know the conditions at ICE facilities are so terrible that they are very likely to contract COVID-19 and have serious complications,” said Talla, who directs the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Program. “And their continuing to transfer people despite having that knowledge is unconstitutional.”

The claims target CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has so far resisted calls from dozens of state lawmakers and immigrant advocates to stop ICE transfers.

CDCR, which is exempt from California’s sanctuary law, routinely cooperates with federal immigration authorities.

Read the full story here.

—Farida Jhabvala Romero (@FaridaJhabvala)

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