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Strafford County Jail No Longer Accepting ICE Transfers From Facilities With COVID-19 Infections

The Strafford County jail is no longer receiving transfers of immigrants in federal detention from facilities with cases of COVID-19.

Jail superintendent Chris Brackett says the policy has been in place since May 20th. It came after an immigrant who had just been transferred to the jail tested positive for the coronavirus.

A federal class action lawsuit from the New Hampshire ACLU seeks the release of all civil immigration detainees at the jail. They're held there under a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The ACLU argues that conditions in the jail make social distancing impossible during COVID-19, putting people at risk. 

In an evidentiary hearing on Friday in federal court, Alan Greenbaum, an assistant field office director for ICE, said that detainees who are transferred have their temperature checked and are required to wear a mask during transport.

So far, the judge in the case has allowed bail hearings for detained immigrants if they’re at high risk of infection.

As of Thursday, May 28, 20 detainees had been released. Some of those were voluntarily released by ICE and others through bail hearings.

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at dallee@nhpr.org.
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