Our client Souleymane Dembele has been released from ICE custody just days after the filing of a lawsuit on his behalf. Souleymane, husband to a lawful resident and father to three U.S. citizen children, suffers from pre-existing medical conditions. He was held by ICE at the McHenry County Jail, where conditions put him at risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
Last Friday, the ACLU of Illinois, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Faegre Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Chicago on behalf of Mr. Dembele and another vulnerable immigrant. The lawsuit seeks to enforce these individuals’ due process rights and argues for their immediate release because crowded and unsanitary conditions in the McHenry County Jail place them at significant risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. Mr. Dembele suffers from medical conditions that are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to place people at high risk of COVID-19 complications.
After the lawsuit was filed, the ACLU was notified by the government that Mr. Dembele would be released. The second man who sued is still detained.
“This is a truly great day for Mr. Dembele, his wife and his children – who lived each day in fear that his life was at risk in the McHenry County Jail,” said Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, legal director for the ACLU of Illinois. “On the day we filed this suit for Mr. Dembele, a senior ICE official told members of Congress the agency did not plan to release any more immigrants. ICE clearly is not doing enough to ensure that immigration detention does not amount to a death sentence for vulnerable people. Immigration detention continues to unnecessarily put immigrants, facility staff, and the surrounding community at risk.”
Mr. Dembele is under a doctor’s care for hypertension and pre-diabetes.