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Judge orders immediate release of two health compromised ICE detainees from Wyatt during pandemic



Until further order of the Court, Petitioners are to be immediately released subject to the following conditions…

United States District Court Judge William Smith ordered the immediate release of two United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees at the Wyatt Detention Center after the Rhode Island ACLU sued, alleging unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the prison. The third person named in the lawsuit, Adriano da Silva Medeiros was released hours before the Judge heard arguments from attorneys on the lawsuit, rendering a decision in his case moot.

A Memorandum of Decision, explaining the Judge’s decision, will be released later today.

The lawsuit was filed by ACLU of RI cooperating attorneys Deborah Gonzalez and Jared Goldstein, both professors at the Roger Williams University School of Law, as well as attorneys from the ACLU’s National Prison Project, Immigrants’ Rights Project and Center for Liberty.

ACLU of Rhode Island cooperating attorney Jared Goldstein said: “Today, the court recognized that the Constitution prohibits the Wyatt from continuing to detain immigrants with medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. The Wyatt simply is not a safe place for medically vulnerable people during this pandemic, and it imperils their health and lives to continue to hold them there. We look forward to seeing the Wyatt begin to act in compliance with the Constitution.” ACLU attorney Gonzalez added: “What a great day for these families!”

“We are thrilled to see that our clients will be released to practice social distancing and take other precautionary measures,” said Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “Civil immigration detention should not be a death sentence, but for our clients — who are medically vulnerable and at heightened risk of serious illness or death from the virus — it almost certainly would be. We are continuing to file similar suits around the country, and we won’t stop fighting for the lives of our clients.”

The Wyatt has no comment.

Reached for comment, John Mohan, Public Affairs Officer/Spokesperson for the New England Region of ICE wrote:

“We’re not commenting on specific cases of individuals released by a judge under these circumstances. However, I can tell you:

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“Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement is reviewing cases of individuals in detention deemed to be at higher risk for severe illness as a result of COVID-19. Utilizing CDC guidance along with the advice of medical professionals, ICE may place individuals in a number of alternatives to detention options.  Decisions to release individuals in ICE custody occur every day on a case-by-case basis.”


Judge Smith released the two remaining members of the lawsuit, Jose Marcos Palacios and Luis Orlando Durand Luyo, under the following conditions:

  1. Petitioners shall be released from the physical custody of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) by Friday, April 24, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.
  2. ICE shall implement GPS monitoring as to both Petitioners. ICE may establish “exclusion zones” as necessary to effectuate the terms of this Order.
  3. Petitioner Durand Luyo is directed to provide ICE with proof of a paid ticket and itinerary information for a departure flight to Peru within thirty days of the date on which commercial flights to Peru resume, with a departure date no later than 45 days after those flights resume, unless Petitioner’s temporary release is terminated prior to that time.
  4. Petitioners are directed to furnish a proposed residence address (other than the residences of any individual who has been the subject of a civil or criminal restraining order against either Petitioner, or any individual who has been the alleged victim of domestic violence in any criminal charge against either Petitioner). Petitioners must provide an affidavit from a primary resident (tenant/owner/relative) at the proposed residence stating that the Petitioner may reside at that location. Petitioners must reside at the respective proposed locations for the duration of their release.
  5. Petitioners are ordered to have no physical contact with the alleged victims of their former/pending domestic violence charges during their release. Petitioners are free to return to the Court for a modification of this restriction if circumstances change.
  6. Petitioners must self-quarantine for a period of fourteen days at the location to which each Petitioner is released and are permitted to leave that location during the 14-day period solely for the purpose of obtaining necessary medical treatment. This period may be shortened if Petitioners are tested for COVID-19 and receive a negative test result.
  7. Petitioners are directed to refrain from engaging in any illegal activity during the period of their temporary release, including the use of illegal drugs, or excessive consumption of alcohol.
  8. ICE may conduct home visits either in person or by telephone or video during the period of release.
  9. Petitioners’ release is predicated upon the existing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting risk to each Petitioner while in custody. Each Petitioner’s release is temporary and conditional on the continued existence of such risk, and each Petitioner must promptly return to ICE custody at the agency’s demand at such time as any constitutionally unjustifiable risk abates, to be determined by the Court.

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.