Otay Mesa Detention Center

Federal Judge Orders Release of Immigration Detainees From Otay Mesa

The release comes as infection spreads inside the federal detention center

A federal judge today, May 4, ordered the release of more than 72 detainees from the Otay Mesa Federal Detention Center. 

A detainee inside Otay Mesa Federal Detention Center said the number could be much higher. By phone, detainee Anthony Alexandre told NBC 7 Investigates that prison administrators informed him that approximately 150 detainees will be released as a result of the class action lawsuit.

Representatives from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have not confirmed the release said the agency was reviewing the court’s order. A spokesperson for CoreCivic, the private company that runs the prison, referred NBC 7 to ICE for confirmation. 

A spokesperson for the ACLU, the group that filed the class action lawsuit in San Diego, said the group was aware of 72 detainees that will be released by the end of the week. 

Still, detainee Anthony Alexandre, who has protested the treatment of detainees inside the facility, told NBC 7 Investigates that he was “elated” at the news.

“They just called me into the office just now and said they are going to release me with 150 detainees and all are going to leave today...I’m honestly elated.”

Listen here for the statement from Alexandre.

As reported by NBC 7, detainees and civil rights groups including the ACLU have demanded the release of all migrants inside the Otay Mesa facility, alleging that detainees were not adequately protected from contracting the disease. 

In an interview with NBC 7 and Telemundo, one detainee described the center as a "death trap.”

Alexandre echoed those statements, alleging staff inside were downplaying the scope of the outbreak inside and refused to provide adequate accommodations for inmates.

In fact, according to ICE’s website, there are now 105 detainees who have since tested positive for the deadly viral disease, which is up by 31 since last week.

In addition to those inmates who tested positive, dozens of employees and federal workers have also contracted COVID-19. Last week, two CoreCivic employees filed lawsuits against the prison contractor over the company’s handling of the outbreak.

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