California ICE detainees to remain held after 9th Circuit halts coronavirus release order

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In a win for the Trump administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Tuesday overruled a lower-court judge’s decision requiring that an ICE detention center northeast of Los Angeles release at least 250 detainees by the end of April due to the coronavirus.

The Trump administration had made an emergency request after U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter’s April 23 ruling to "immediately reduce" the Adelanto ICE Processing Facility 's detainee population “to such a level that would allow the remaining detainees to maintain a social distance of six feet from each other at all times,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

The halt allows the federal government to appeal the order.

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Hatter also ordered ICE to not admit any new detainees to the facility, which is one of the largest in the nation.

While overruling the release of detainees, the 9th Circuit left the part of Hatter’s decision requiring the facility to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus guidelines for detention facilities.

The guidelines say detainees should have at least six feet of space, those with symptoms should wear masks, be placed in isolation and get medical attention and new detainees should remain in quarantine for two weeks.

Administration lawyers appealed Hatter’s preliminary injunction the day after his ruling before any detainees were released.

Hatter’s ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California filed a class-action lawsuit demanding the release of detainees, claiming conditions at the facility could lead to a coronavirus outbreak.

Between four and eight detainees often live in eight-by-10-foot cells and share restrooms and dining areas, The Times reported.

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Adelanto officials said they’ve staggered meal times and reduced the number of visitors to the center for social distancing.

No detainees have tested positive at the facility but only six had been tested as of April 23, The Times reported.

Gabriel Valdez, assistant field director of enforcement and removal operations for ICE in Los Angeles, said detainees deemed vulnerable by the center’s staff were previously released.

Nationwide, 674 detainees have tested positive at 39 centers.