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To help control the spread of the coronavirus, the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must deliver soap, antibacterial gel, face masks, and disinfectants to detainees at three South Florida detention centers, as well as limit transfers to other facilities, determined by a federal judge.

In an order issued shortly before midnight Saturday, District Judge Marcia Cooke also decided to allow detainees at the centers to file legal claims in a class action, rather than fragmented litigation.

The judge was on the verge of ordering that the detainees be released, although the decision was still a victory for the detainees who filed the suit in April. Cooke noted that maintaining social distancing at the three ICE detention centers in South Florida “remains an impossibility”, detainees are not properly educated on the use of face masks, and the detainees’ continued transfers to other facilities “markedly increase the risk of spreading the contagion.”

In sum, at this time when the entire world is in danger from a highly contagious pathogen, the Court is not satisfied that ICE’s commitment to its facilities has changed markedly since the start of the pandemic, ”Cooke wrote in one order of 40 pages.

Cooke’s order merely expands on an earlier order stating that it was necessary to reduce the prison population in three Florida detention centers, as COVID-19, the disease causing the coronavirus, can spread.

The decision was released Friday as part of a federal lawsuit seeking the release of detainees at three South Florida detention centers: Krome in Miami-Dade, the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, and the Glades County detention at Moore Haven.

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