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Judge denies COVID-related request to release illegal immigrants from family detention facilities

Federal Judge James Boasberg denied a request for a preliminary injunction

Updated: July 23, 2020 - 2:18pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Federal Judge James Boasberg on Wednesday denied a request for a preliminary injunction to release people currently held at several family immigration detention facilities.

In his ruling in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the judge refused the request that the detainees be released due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Petitioners, fearful as we all are of contracting a novel and dangerous disease, understandably swing for the fences in seeking wholesale release," the judge wrote. "Those fences are high and hard to clear, however, as Petitioners must demonstrate that no court-ordered remedy other than their release will do," Boasberg said.

"The Preliminary Injunction Motion presents difficult legal questions and turns on disputed factual allegations about what is actually taking place inside the FRCs," Boasberg noted. "At this point, however, the Court need not untangle those knots. Even assuming the conditions of Petitioners’ confinement violate their due-process rights, they have not yet clearly shown that they are entitled to the extraordinary remedy of blanket release from immigration detention. The Court will accordingly deny their Motion."

Boasberg said that another federal court has ordered that minors who have been at the facilities more than 20 days should be released.

"Many Petitioners are minors who qualify," he said. "As a practical matter, then, Petitioners’ request for release pertains principally to the adults among them."

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 3.94 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 142,000 deaths.