Immigrant Justice and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid the current public health crisis, the stakes for immigrants facing detention and deportation could not be higher. Immigrants of all statuses, including long-term permanent residents, refugees, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and those who are undocumented, have been on the front lines of the medical response and kept the U.S. economy running by continuing to produce and deliver food, clean hospitals, and perform other critical tasks.

Despite the pandemic, ICE enforcement has continued, with immigrants being placed in detention centers where COVID-19 outbreaks are occurring. In many of these settings, it is impossible to practice social distancing and basic hygiene, as soap and hand sanitizer are not readily accessible. Many lack access to an attorney who can help advocate on their behalf for access to health care or release to the community.

This page offers resources and recommendations for members of the public, advocates, attorneys, government officials, and other stakeholders to continue the fight for justice, dignity, and safety for immigrants during the pandemic.

Publications and Research

Blog Posts

One Year Later, We Still Don’t Know How Many People in ICE Detention Have Been Exposed to COVID-19

It’s been one year since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 for a person in immigration detention, and its refusal to follow basic public health guidance continues to result in preventable suffering and death.

Despite Vera’s efforts to track what ICE reports on COVID-19 in detention, the agency’s limited reporting remains insufficient for understanding the scope of this crisis and its implications for the treatment of people subject to detention in the future. Critical information—such as the total number of people at risk within facilities, who have bee ...

  • Noelle Smart
    Noelle Smart
  • Adam Garcia
    Adam Garcia
April 08, 2021

The Vera Institute of Justice is committed to driving concrete change and producing new insights to radically transform American justice, grounded in the values of human dignity, due process, and opportunity for everyone. Its Center on Immigration and Justice has a long track record of protecting the rights of immigrants in the United States, including expanding access to counsel and information for immigrants facing deportation, who do not have the right to a public defender if they cannot afford a lawyer.