Two immigrants released from Worcester ICE facility, “at risk” if they contract COVID-19
SNOW HILL, Md. – Two men were released from the Worcester County Detention Center (WCDC) on Thursday after a judge ruled WCDC and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are indifferent to “the health and safety of high-risk detainees.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, William Kemcha and another man identified as A.G.C. were released because they are “at risk for serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19.”
U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang says Worcester corrections officials and ICE misled the court by saying there were no suspected cases of COVID-19 at WCDC. When in fact, medical records show there were three suspected cases at the facility.
“That is not an acceptable result in any setting especially when they’re in the custody of our government. Our government can’t just let people in their custody die,” says Nick Steiner, Staff Attorney or the ACLU of Maryland.
“The ICE Deputy Assistant Director for Healthcare Compliance attested to the fact that as of March 27, 2020, ‘[t]here are zero suspected cases of COVID-19 in… the Worcester County Jail.’ This statement, which the Court relied upon in deciding the First Motion, proved to be demonstrably false… Indeed, had the Court not been misled by Respondents’ claim that there were no suspected COVID-19 cases at WCDC, and had it known that such a detainee existed but would not be tested, it likely would have reached a different conclusion on the First Motion.”
“We are ecstatic that all of our petitioners have been released and safe from the serious risk of contracting COVID-19 in a detention center. ICE has no concern for the health and safety of immigrants in their custody, and their misrepresentations to the Court illustrate the lengths to which they will go to abandon the human dignity of immigrants,” says Nick Taichi Steiner, Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Maryland. “Thankfully, A.G.C. and Mr. Kemcha will be released, and can avoid the serious risk of contracting COVID-19 that exists for people in detention.”
The two men aren’t technically released from ICE Custody but they are released from the detention center itself. They also still have immigration reporting requirements they have to meet. Part of the judge’s order is that they also have to self quarantine for 14 days.
47 ABC reached out to the ACLU to ask the status of these immigrants but we were told that the attorney handling the case did not know and that in this case it wasn’t relevant because it is dependent on their lives being at risk, not their status.