After 17 months in detention, Rene Ramirez-Alatorre has been released from the NWDC due to high risk of COVID-19
Today, December 9th, we celebrate the collective victory of Rene Ramirez-Alatorre’s release from immigration detention. Rene, 46 years old, had been detained in the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) for over a year, suffers from asthma and hypertension which put him at high risk for complications from COVID-19. Rene was released yesterday on December 8, 2020 and reunited with his wife and children, who he hadn’t seen in person for nine months, and who he had not been permitted to touch for seventeen. Rene was detained seventeen months ago when Grant County Sheriff contacted Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) in violation of the Keep Washington Working Act.
Rene’s legal team led by Colectiva Legal’s immigration attorney Eliana Horn, persisted in filing over six requests to ICE for his release over the past 8 months, motions to immigration court and the Board of Immigration Appeals, and federal litigation in attempts to advocate for his release. This victory would not have been possible without the collaboration of Refugees Northwest Medical and Mental Health evaluation program, the organizing work of La Resistencia to elevate public pressure and coordinate volunteer medical workers who reviewed Rene’s medical records.
“Colectiva has been committed to doing whatever necessary to make sure that Rene is free from detention, where he can take the precautions, he needs to protect himself. Rene has been persistent in his commitment to safer conditions for himself and others in the face of extreme suffering, when he should never have been detained in the first place. It is unconscionable that it has taken nine months, filings in three different courts, and countless requests to ICE for them to finally release Rene. ” said Eliana Horn, Staff Attorney.
“As people with experience of the detention and deportation machine, we are more than well equipped to fight for the liberation of our own from the claws of ICE. Rene and his family are one of us, they proved willing to fight back and join our movement to end all detentions and deportations. As long as NWDC continues operating and profiting from our people’s suffering, and endangering their lives, we will continue fighting to free them all from that cage,” said Maru Mora Villalpando community organizer with La Resistencia.
Rene developed hypertension while he was in detention and has had asthma since he was young. ICE refused to diagnose or recognize these conditions, even though they put him at high risk of COVID-19 complications. ICE refused to release Rene for over nine months, despite the documented, heightened risks to his health.
When Rene’s pod was twice moved to areas in the Detention Center where social distancing is impossible, Renee went into voluntary isolation in an attempt to follow COVID-19 guidelines and protect himself from possible transmission. During his forty plus days and almost two weeks now of isolation Renee’s physical and mental health declined rapidly. He began to experience problems with his memory and reported seeing things that were not there.
Rene also has chronic medical debilitating conditions that have developed and worsened since being detained and has experienced medical neglect. While Rene’s doctor stated that a catheter should be removed after one week, ICE did not allow Rene to see his doctor for removal until 16 days after the catheter was inserted which resulted in large amounts of blood in Rene’s urine. A board-certified doctor reviewing Rene’s medical records concluded that the only reason for waiting to remove the catheter sooner was as a cost saving measure by GEO Group. “After 17 months of arduous fight that my lawyer Eliana Horne and La Resistencia led, I’ve been released from detention where I suffered of many health problems. These problems multiplied and my health deteriorated every day due to the lack of medical attention which put me at higher risk of COVID-19, along with everyone else detained by ICE,” said Rene Ramirez- Alatorre after being released from NWDC.
Legal representation is vital! Rene was represented pro bono. Legal representation in the immigration system is vital! You can help make sure that others are represented when they can’t afford it, make a donation to Colectiva today!