April 01, 2020

Warren Joins Colleagues Calling for Release of Vulnerable, Low-Risk Detained Persons from Immigration Detention Facilities Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and a number of their colleagues in a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew T. Albence, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan, pushing for the release of vulnerable and low-risk detained persons from DHS custody as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. 

“To prevent further, unnecessary harm posed by the novel coronavirus, DHS, ICE, and CBP must take steps to release vulnerable and low-risk detained persons from custody, including release of individuals on recognizance, bond, parole, or via enrollment of individuals in alternatives to detention programs,” the lawmakers wrote. “DHS, ICE and CBP must also ensure that individuals in detention receive adequate soap, water, and other hygiene products and free access to external communication mechanisms.  During this public health crisis, it is imperative that DHS act immediately to protect the health and safety of individuals in its custody.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Feinstein (D-Calif.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Booker (D-N.J.), Markey (D-Mass.), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Coons (D-Del.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Sanders (I-Vt.).

Senator Warren has been active on oversight in the immigration space during the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her colleagues previously wrote to DHS, ICE, and CBP asking about their plans to prepare for the possible spread of COVID-19 within DHS facilities. On March 5, 2020, she led a letter urging the Trump Administration to suspend all immigration enforcement actions in and around hospitals and other medical facilities. On March 11, she sent a letter with Senator Edward J. Markey raising concerns about DOJ's handling of COVID-19 prevention efforts in the immigration courts. She later urged the Department of Justice to close all immigration courts to prevent the spread of the virus. She has also introduced the Prioritizing Pandemic Prevention Act (S. 3510), legislation to defund the border wall and direct those funds to combating COVID-19.