New Jersey prisons must release at least 10 “at risk” ICE detainees for coronavirus problems

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At least 10 migrants deemed “at risk” were sentenced to three years in prison New Jersey Thursday evening on coronavirus concerns.

Prisons – in Hudson, Bergen and Essex counties – had each reported cases of coronavirus, either among inmates, staff or both, ABC News reported.

American judge Analisa Torres in New York ruled that the group of detainees, which included men and women, had asked for her release “because of the public health crisis caused by COVID-19”, according to their petition, according to ABC .

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The detainees were not identified and were detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for unspecified reasons. The migrant group was said to be the largest in the country to be sentenced to release due to concerns over the virus, Politico reported.

The three counties of New Jersey lie just across the Hudson River from New York, which has the most cases of coronavirus in the country. New Jersey ranks No. 2 on the list.

“Each petitioner suffers from chronic health problems and faces an imminent risk of death or serious injury in immigration detention if exposed to COVID-19”, according to the judge’s decision, the station said.

Torres also addressed prison conditions in his decision.

“The nature of the detention centers makes the exposure and spread of the virus particularly harmful,” wrote Torres.

Nationally, the United States holds approximately 37,000 people in immigration detention, according to the Associated Press.

An American immigration and customs (ICE) officer watches during an operation in Escondido, California (Associated Press)

Many detainees are elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions, which make them vulnerable to coronavirus, and are detained in conditions where the beds are only three feet apart without access to equipment protective devices such as face masks.

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Hudson County Jail reported two inmates and a correctional officer with the virus, while Bergen County Jail reported that one inmate was infected and Essex County Jail reported that a superior had been diagnosed with the disease, ABC reported.

At least two other federal courts – Boston and San Francisco – have ordered that individual migrants be released from detention in recent days due to coronavirus problems, Politico reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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