Federal District Court Orders Release of Immigrant Detained at Northwest Detention Center Because of COVID-19 Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28th, 2020

Media contact

Matt Adams, NWIRP
(206) 957-8611; matt@nwirp.org


 

SEATTLE, WA – Today U.S. District Court judge Richard Martinez ordered the federal government to release an immigrant detained at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), AKA Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC), who is at high risk of serious illness or death if he contracts COVID-19. The Court ordered the release of Mr. Pimentel, a 65-year old man who has been a lawful permanent resident in the United States since 1996, but was placed in removal proceedings after pleading guilty to a drug offense. After completing his sentence, Mr. Pimentel returned to live with his family in Salt Lake City, Utah, but was subsequently arrested by ICE in May of 2019 after he appeared for an appointment. ICE ultimately transferred Mr. Pimentel to the detention center in Tacoma, Washington.

Judge Martinez found that federal immigration authorities “detain Petitioner at the NWIPC in conditions that create a substantial risk he will be exposed to the coronavirus and contract COVID-19.”

Judge Martinez relied on declarations from public health experts stating that once COVID-19 reaches the detention center it will spread like “wildfire.” The Court noted that experts have attributed a mortality rate as high as 15% for high risk individuals who contract COVID-19. Judge Martinez ultimately concluded that “Petitioner has made a clear showing that he faces a substantial risk of serious harm due to the conditions of his present confinement and the fact that he is at higher risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19.”

Judge Martinez ordered that Mr. Pimentel be immediately released. He will now be permitted to return to live with his son and daughter-in-law in Salt Lake City while he waits for his immigration case to be completed.

The order can be viewed here.