August 27, 2021

Willkie and civil rights organizations that filed the Fraihat v. ICE lawsuit have sought COVID-19 protections and an end to the inhumane experience of ICE detention affecting tens of thousands across the country.

On August 23, the Biden Administration filed an appeal to a federal court order requiring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to vaccinate medically vulnerable people in its custody. The filing was in Fraihat v. ICE, which challenges the inhumane and traumatic experience of ICE detention, affecting tens of thousands across the country.

On June 23, Judge Jesus Bernal of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered the agency to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all people in ICE detention with medical risk factors that increase their risk of serious COVID-19 complications. This followed multiple previous court orders admonishing ICE for systemic failures in their response to the pandemic, starting with the Court’s April 2020 injunction ordering ICE to identify and review for release those with risk factors in its custody and establish other procedures for limiting the spread of COVID-19 inside detention centers.

The organizations representing the plaintiffs in Fraihat v. ICE are Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, Disability Rights Advocates, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Law firms Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP are serving as pro bono co-counsel.

The pro bono Willkie team was led by partners Michael Johnson and Heather Schneider, and included associates Vanessa Richardson, Leigh Coutoumanos, Joseph Bretschneider, Timothy Ryan and Marissa Cantu.

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