AP NEWS

Judge releases 2 immigrants due to health risks at jail

May 13, 2020 GMT

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — A judge has ordered the federal government to release two immigrants from a Michigan jail, saying their health is at risk from the coronavirus.

The American Civil Liberties Union has had some success in winning the release of immigrants who have been locked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while awaiting deportation hearings or other steps. The conditions of Michigan prisons and jails have been challenged during the virus outbreak.

“COVID-19 does not respect prison walls,” U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said in a 55-page opinion released Tuesday night. “The raging global pandemic outside of Calhoun County Correctional Facility and a confirmed case within the facility pose a serious risk to those inside.”

Levy ordered the release of Qaid Alhalmi, a 54-year-old native of Yemen, and Tomas Cardona Ramirez, a 37-year-old native of Guatemala. Both have underlying health issues. The judge asked for more information about two other people.

The government said it has been responding appropriately to virus risks among detainees.

ICE holds immigrants at jails in Monroe, Calhoun, St. Clair and Chippewa counties under agreements with local officials.