Alert: View AILA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center

ICE Issues Guidance on COVID-19

April 3, 2020

ICE updated its guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ICE updated information on visitation at detention facilities, including in-person legal visitation, and communication with detainees. ICE also released updated statements regarding detainees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Regarding legal visitation, ICE now notes:

Detainee access to legal representatives remains a paramount requirement and should be accommodated to the maximum extent practicable. Legal visitation must continue unless determined to pose a risk to the safety and security of the facility.

Non-contact legal visitation (e.g., Skype or teleconference) should be offered first to limit exposure to ICE detainees, but in person contact should be permitted if determined essential by the legal representative. Prior to the in-person visit, the legal representative must undergo the same screening required for staff entry into the facility. The ultimate legal visit approving authority lies with the Warden or Facility Administrator; however, the facility should notify its local Field Office Director as soon as possible of any denied legal visits.

April 2, 2020

ICE released a statement noting that “a 33-year-old Dominican national in ICE custody at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, New Jersey and a 45 year-old Guatemalan national in ICE custody at the at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona have tested positive for COVID-19.”

March 30, 2020

ICE released a statement noting that “a 40-year-old Salvadoran national in ICE custody at the Bergen County Jail and a 22-year-old Salvadoran national in ICE custody at the Hudson County Correctional Center have tested positive for COVID-19.”

March 24, 2020

ICE confirmed that as of March 24, 2020, one detainee, one detention facility employee or personnel, and 18 ICE employees, have tested positive for COVID-19. ICE also updated its guidance on legal visits and legal orientation programs at ICE detention facilities.

March 22, 2020

At 6:20 pm (ET), ICE communicated to AILA that, generally, only those conducting in-person contact visits need personal protective equipment (PPE) (UNLESS a particular facility has more restrictive rules), but that AILA members should still check with the facility on their individual policy.

March 21, 2020

ICE added language to its COVID-19 guidance stating that “ICE/ERO now requires all legal visitors, CODELs, and STAFFDELs to provide and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) (disposable vinyl gloves, N-95 or surgical masks, and eye protection) while visiting any detention facility.” Local ICE offices have reached out to some chapters directly with similar guidance and have stated that visitors will have to provide the PPE themselves. It appears that this requirement will apply to courts operated by DHS and located in detention centers. There is no indication at this time that this requirement would apply to courts operated by EOIR and outside of detention centers.

March 18, 2020

ICE issued updated guidance on how it’s handling COVID-19. ICE has revised the process for filing Form I-246, revised the timeline for individuals to report for their initial check-in with a local field office, and limited the acceptance of bonds to specific locations, among other things.

ICE notes that as of 3/17/20, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in ICE detention facilities and is screening new detainees. ICE has temporarily suspended social visitation but non-contact legal visitations will continue to be permitted.

Has ICE modified enforcement efforts during COVID-19?

To ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will temporarily adjust its enforcement posture beginning today, March 18, 2020. ICE's highest priorities are to promote life-saving and public safety activities.

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.

Homeland Security Investigations will continue to carry out mission critical criminal investigations and enforcement operations as determined necessary to maintain public safety and national security. Examples include investigations into child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and continued participation on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. This work will be conducted based on ability to coordinate and work with prosecutors from the Department of Justice and intake at both the U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Prisons.

Consistent with its sensitive locations policy, during the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors' offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.

Updated 03/18/2020 7:45pm

[This functionality does not work on your device. Please use the download button to access the PDF. A separate PDF reading app may be necessary.]

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20031658.

Open the Document