Fraihat v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
On August 19, 2019, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), challenging ICE’s systemic failure to monitor its facilities, which results in policies, procedures, and conditions that discriminate against detainees, including people with all types of disabilities.
The lawsuit represents persons currently detained by ICE in prison-like settings who are routinely discriminated against in the form of disciplinary segregation, improper medical screening, delayed and denied medical care, and denial of reasonable accommodations such as hearing aids and mobility devices. Organizational plaintiffs for the case are the bi-national direct legal services organization Al Otro Lado and the advocacy collective Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ).
Although ICE facilities are classified as civil, conditions for detainees in ICE facilities are similar to and in some cases worse than those in prison. In violation of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there are as many as 50,000 immigrants currently being held across 148 ICE detention facilities that are being subjected to horrific, inhumane, and unlawful conditions of confinement. Over the course of Fiscal Year 2018, ICE detained approximately 396,448 people. These individuals are packed into immigration prisons in which they are routinely denied healthcare and disability accommodations, and are subjected to arbitrary and punitive isolation, often over 22 hours per day. Thousands have suffered in detention, many of whom have abandoned viable claims for relief and accepted deportation out of a desperate desire to be released or to obtain necessary medical care, and dozens have died as a result of insufficient care.
Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages, but instead aim to reform the way our nation treats the human beings who have immigrated to the United States.