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Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. Files Class-Action Lawsuit for Immigrant Detainees Worried About COVID-19

Shaheen & Gordon PA has partnered with the ACLU of New Hampshire and several other area law firms to file a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The suit calls for the immediate release of all Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) civil detainees being held in custody at Strafford County Department of Corrections. In light of the overwhelming amount of medical evidence which shows that maintaining a social distance of six feet is crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19, this lawsuit is necessary to enact such practices at the crowded Dover facility.

The plaintiffs we represent in this case are concerned about not only protecting themselves from the virus, but the other immigration detainees at the Strafford County Department of Corrections too. With reports nationwide citing substantial increases in COVID cases among detained populations, our clients rightfully worry that the same thing can – and will inevitably – happen in Strafford County.

The class-action lawsuit cites the following conditions at the detention facility as grounds for the immediate release of inmates:

  • Inmate bunk beds are placed only two to three feet apart.
  • Detainees are forced to share sinks, toilets, counters, and showers.
  • Foodservice is communal with people eating at crowded tables.

Speaking about the importance of this case, Attorney Ron Abramson, Chair of Shaheen & Gordon’s Immigration Practice Group, said:

“Detaining people for immigration violations during a pandemic is a completely unacceptable and irresponsible game of public health Russian Roulette. We don’t know who, and we don’t know when, but some people will get sick, and some people will die. The only way to minimize that possibility is to release as many people from detention as possible.”

Attorney Emily Assunta White, added:

“Most of us, those who aren’t essential workers, are in our homes. And we are still anxious about potential exposure and how best to keep healthy. Those detained at Stafford County for immigration violations have tenfold reason to be worried. To continue detaining people who don’t pose a danger to public safety, in conditions where the deadly virus would spread like wildfire, is inhumane and unreasonable. This is especially true when there are reliable alternatives to detention.”

To read the full case filing for the class action lawsuit, please click here.

UPDATE: Two ICE detainees have been granted temporary release by government officials from the Strafford County House of Corrections in Dover.

To discuss your important immigration matters with a seasoned attorney, please call us today at (603) 635-4099 to request a case consultation with Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.

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