HIRC fights for release of detainees

As COVID-19 continues to spread, more and more people are feeling the impacts of this pandemic. Detainees face particularly grave health risks and HIRC is working tirelessly to advocate for the release of all immigrants in detention. Recently, HIRC attorneys and students submitted a number of habeas petitions on behalf of clients who are currently in detention. Here are some recent initiatives:

  • HIRC at GBLS, led by Co-Managing Directors Nancy Kelly and John Willshire-Carrera, joined the ACLU of New Hampshire in filing an emergency federal lawsuit on behalf of an indigenous Guatemalan asylum-seeker who has been placed into “withholding-only” proceedings and detained in Strafford, New Hampshire. HIRC and the ACLU argue against the government’s interpretation that individuals in these “withholding-only” proceedings may be detained without a bond hearing. We are thrilled to report that their client was released last week.
  • Crimmigration Clinic Director Phil Torrey and Crimmigration Clinic students filed habeas petitions on behalf of two clients detained at the Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield, MA. The petitions argue that these individuals are being held in violation of their Fifth Amendment rights and both have lodged claims concerning potential COVID-19 exposure. Crimmigration Clinic students Sarah Libowsky ’20 and Michael Hur ’20 are tentatively scheduled to argue one of the habeas petitions this week.
  • HIRC students Norah Rast ’21 and Zack Manley ’21, under the supervision of HIRC Director Sabi Ardalan, won a stay of deportation from the Eleventh Circuit for a client detained at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. They also collaborated with the Southern Poverty Law Center on a habeas petition filed on behalf of thirteen immigrants detained at Stewart, including the HIRC client. These individuals have preexisting conditions, making them highly susceptible to contracting COVID-19, and the petition calls for their immediate release.

HIRC is committed to continuing to work to release our clients from detention and will keep pushing for policies that prioritize the health and wellbeing of immigrants throughout the COVID-19 crisis.