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Immigrants Await Results of Suit Against U.S. and Jefferson County, Illinois

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on April 18, 2013

It has now been more than two months since the National Immigrant Justice Center (“NIJC”) filed a lawsuit against officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Jefferson County, Illinois relating to the deplorable treatment of immigrants detained at the Jefferson County Justice Center (the “JCJ Center”).

Conditions at the JCJ Center were so bad that immigrants had to be evacuated in November 2012, pursuant to a federal law prohibiting ICE from detaining people at facilities that are found to be “deficient” in meeting minimum health standards on two consecutive inspections.

Showers and restrooms were allegedly encrusted with mold, drinking water was brown and putrid, and the jail pods lacked ventilation. These conditions created a breeding ground for germs that resulted in detainees suffering from tuberculosis, other respiratory infections, and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”).

These kinds of dangerous conditions threatened not only the inmate population at the JCJ Center, but the general public as well, and thus the legal action taken by the NIJC was clearly in the public interest.

It had been expected that the JCJ Center would be rehabilitated, and some people were concerned that ICE might even try to rush the detainees back to the facility before now. It is apparent that conditions were worse than expected, and ICE has had to keep the detainees at other facilities in different regions pursuant to Inter-Governmental Service Contracts that permit the sharing of facilities between the federal government and the states.

The NIJC is seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to prevent the housing of detainees in unsafe conditions that jeopardize public health and safety, as demonstrated by the Complaint filed in federal court.

As always, the Law Office of Ronald Shapiro, Esq. stands ready to serve those in need of immigration assistance, although we do not handle detention and deportation matters. If you otherwise have an immigration concern, please contact us at (847) 564-0712 to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration attorney and/or check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.