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NYCLU reaches settlement with ICE over COVID-19 protections at Batavia detention center

A barbed-wire fence lines the outside of the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia, NY.
Noelle E. C. Evans | WXXI News
A barbed-wire fence lines the outside of the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia, NY.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has reached a settlement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement over coronavirus protections for detainees being held in Batavia.

The settlement assures that detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center who are at high-risk of health complications if they contract the virus, will be given protections that are in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

This is in contrast from a few months ago. In March and April, there was an outbreak at the center in which 49 detainees tested positive for the coronavirus, yet lawyers said that only certain detainees were given proper protections, a violation of due process rights. The Constitution mandates that detainees be released if the detention center could not implement these measures for whatever reason.

Credit photo provided by Megan Sallomi
Megan Sallomi is a staff attorney with the NYCLU.

High-risk detainees will be placed in individual cells, eat meals separately, and shower in isolation. All staff and officers will have to wear masks when interacting with vulnerable and high-risk detainees.

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Megan Sallomi, staff attorney with the NYCLU, said that while there have been no new cases at the detention center in Batavia in over two months, the protections will help for future outbreaks.

“It’s entirely possible that there’s a second wave in New York or that there’s another outbreak at Batavia,” said Sallomi. “I think these protections are still relevant and will continue to be necessary.”

ICE ERO Buffalo Field Office Director Thomas Feeley says that the facility’s response to the public health crisis has been “exemplary.”

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.
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