Judge Orders ICE to Take Immediate Action to Fight Virus in Adelanto Center

ICE Holds Immigrants At Adelanto Detention Facility

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles federal judge has ordered the immediate reduction of the population of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center due to an outbreak of COVID-19 moving through the facility.

Of 784 jailed immigrants housed at the 1,940-bed detention center, 81 detainees -- including nine requiring hospitalization -- have confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus spread across four of Adelanto's housing units, U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter's written ruling states.

The outbreak was most likely caused by a staff member who reported to work at the facility infected with COVID-19, but contact tracing has apparently not been completed and the source of the outbreak has not been identified, according to Hatter's order, which modifies a prior injunction.

A previous plan to test all Adelanto detainees was quashed “for an unjustified and arbitrary reason'' by Gabriel Valdez, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's assistant field office director of Adelanto, Hatter wrote.

Earlier this month, ICE spokesperson Alexx Pons said when a detainee exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19, immediate action is taken to isolate and monitor, provide care and conduct contact tracing to extrapolate the possible source of the infection.

However, Hatter found that the government's response to COVID-19, both as to the current outbreak and to the continuing threat the virus poses to detainees, “remains inadequate and objectively unreasonable.''

Last week, a federal appeals panel held that the lower court has the authority to fashion a plan to address the facility's continuing challenges in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the core provisions of a preliminary injunction issued by Hatter in April.

The decision was part of a months-long battle over the safety of immigrants detained at the facility owned and operated by The GEO Group, a private prison company.

Hatter ordered that ICE must address issues at the facility by:

-- filing a population reduction plan by Monday which allows for detainees to maintain six feet of social distance at all times away from each other;

-- halting any new or transfer detainees into the facility pending further order of the court;

-- testing all Adelanto detainees, who agree to be tested, for COVID-19 on a weekly basis beginning Monday;

-- filing a complete and updated census of all detainees starting Oct. 12 and every Monday thereafter;

-- immediately stopping the use of the disinfectant HDQ Neutral in all housing units and other indoor spaces at the facility that are occupied or used by detainees;

-- ensuring that staff endeavor to keep a six-foot social distance from each other and from detainees;

-- ensuring that staff must wear masks while in housing units and whenever interacting with other staff and/or detainees;

-- making sure that all Adelanto detainees wear masks and maintain, to the extent possible, and keep a social distance of six feet from other detainees at all times; and

-- providing to detainees, at no cost, sufficient and appropriate cleaning supplies, and sufficient quantities of hand soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer so the detainees never run out of those supplies.

Photo: Getty Images

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