After Weeks of Pressure, ICE Ordered to Release People From Detention in South Florida

Jose Munoz Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Contact: José Alonso Muñoz | jose@unitedwedream.org | 202.810.0746

Miami, Florida – In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE has put people’s health at risk by keeping them detained. Yesterday, in response to a lawsuit from the Miami University Law Clinic, Southern Poverty Law Center,  Rapid Defense Network and others, a federal judge ordered ICE to release some people currently held in three detention centers in South Florida. In the order, the judge stated that ICE had acted with “deliberate indifference” to the condition of the immigrants held in their custody. ICE must comply with the order and release people and not try to subvert it by transferring people to other detention centers. 

United We Dream (UWD) has exposed the inhumane conditions within these detention centers, sharing the stories of Fidel and Ariel, and asking the public to drive calls and signatures demanding  ICE halt operations. We thank Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees, the Miami University Law Clinic, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Circle of Protection. We will not let up, and will continue applying pressure to ensure ICE complies with the federal judge’s order and that our people are freed. 

Last month, after continued public pressure from organizers on the ground, including UWD, the Florida Immigration Coalition, and the Miramar Circle of Protection, the Miramar ICE check-in facility finally closed.

Maria Bilbao, Florida Organizer of United We Dream, said:

“In the midst of a pandemic, ICE has not let up with their cruelty. Over the past few weeks,  we have been communicating and organizing with dozens of family members who were terrified for their loved ones being held in these inhumane detention centers across South Florida. Those inside bravely shared their stories and today we are closer to getting them released because of it. 

Today, I will join healthcare workers and community members in a car rally to demand ICE comply with the judge’s orders and release our people now!  While this order is welcomed, no one inside a detention center is safe, and so we must continue to pressure ICE to let all our people go.”

Juan Manuel Guzman, State and Local Advocacy Strategist of United We Dream, said:

“We are one step closer to ending the horrific ICE practice of imprisoning immigrants. In this pandemic, because of ICE’s history of abuse and medical neglect, detention only increases people’s risk of contracting COVID-19. Immigrant youth and allies flooded the phone lines, alerted the press and took action to get immigrants released from ICE detention camps where agents are creating dangerous and inhumane conditions. Last night, a federal judge called ICE behavior “cruel and unusual punishment” and now we demand that immigrants be allowed to return to their families immediately. Stop trapping immigrants in these unsafe, unhealthy and inhumane detention camps – release our people now!”

Annete Villa Menéndez, Her husband is currently detained at Broward Transitional Center (BTC), said:

“My husband has been detained in ICE custody over a year and has been transferred eight times. He is currently being held in BTC, and this order was welcomed news on the possibility of him being able to come home. It is the responsibility of the government to protect all people from getting sick, and making sure all people have their medical needs met. My husband has a family waiting to receive him at home. ICE must stop putting people’s lives at risk subjecting them to physical and psychologically abuse. He should be with us now! Everyone in detention should be released to be with their families.”

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United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members and 48 affiliate organizations across 26 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.