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Four detainees test positive for COVID-19 at federal detention center in Batavia

Apr 9, 2020

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Thursday evening that four detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia have tested positive for COVID-19.

Those identified include a 62-year-old detainee from Pakistan, a 29-year-old from Somalia, a 37-year-old from Honduras and a 31-year-old fromHonduras. No information regarding gender was provided.

On April 6th, ICE spokesperson Khaalid Walls stated that there were approximately 400 detainees at the detention center in Batavia. The facility can hold up to 650 detainees including 32 units the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU).
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans | WXXI News

ICE officials said that “those who have come in contact with these individuals have been cohorted (grouped together) and are being monitored for symptoms.”

Siana McLean is an immigration attorney who represents detainees at the detention center in Batavia. She says she’s concerned for her clients.

“My own clients have told me that there are confirmed cases and I have a client right now who is waiting on a result from a COVID-19 test which I have a feeling is going to come back positive.”

She says that ICE has the ability to release detainees on parole, and what’s called “alternatives to detention” in which someone could be placed in an ankle bracelet, and/or report in periodically.

There are currently two Habeas Corpus cases pending for the release of detainees who have underlying health conditions. Habeas Corpus cases are writs that require a person in custody to be presented before a judge, particularly in an effort to secure their release.

McLean implores ICE to release as many people as they can, stating that there is a massive health crisis at this time.

“We know that there are cases in the facility and it’s just a matter of time before it spreads to the entire facility," McLean says. "So they need to act now.”