Citing ICE COVID-19 Lawsuit, Lawyers and Advocates Continue Call for Release of Migrant Detainees From New Jersey Prison

May 20, 2020
3:42 PM


On Wednesday, the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) hosted a virtual press conference where it shared the latest update about a Friday lawsuit filed by four migrant detainees against the Elizabeth Detention Center (EDC) in Elizabeth, New Jersey. EDC is a private prison run by CoreCivic for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuit claims that conditions at EDC are creating a COVID-19 hotspot that is threatening the health and lives of detainees.

Besides updates from the legal team about the status of the lawsuit, the press conference also included remarks by individuals who have been in contact with the four plaintiffs, including those were working on the case of plaintiff Héctor García Mendoza, who advocates say is asthmatic. According to the press conference, García Mendoza was suddenly issued an order of deportation after news of the lawsuit was made public but a judge issued a stay of removal on Monday. Nonetheless, lawyers on the press call explained, ICE deported García Mendoza on Tuesday morning, leaving him in Mexico. Nobody knows his whereabouts, and advocates believe this was done in retaliation of filing the lawsuit.

“Mr. García Mendoza, 30, had been detained at EDC since March 2020. He shared a dorm with dozens of other detained men, some of them ill. There was little space among the men, and the living spaces were filthy. An asthma sufferer, Mr. García has experienced chest pain and shortness of breath while detained, but the medical staff have refused him adequate treatment,” a release by IDP said on Wednesday.

Latino Rebels founder Julio Ricardo Varela attended the press conference and shared some highlights via Twitter: