Urgent Action Update: Free Families In Immigration Detention (USA: UA 116.20)

November 13, 2020

As COVID-19 runs rampant in USA family detention centres, immigration authorities continue to lock up and endanger nearly ninety families who came to the US seeking safety from violence and persecution in their home countries. One family from the previous UA, Marilin* and Yunior*, was finally released from detention, but others remain locked up. Authorities must release all families together to protect them from the pandemic while maintaining their family unity. The alternative – releasing children but continuing to detain their parents – would constitute family separation, a practice that in some cases can constitute torture under US and international law.



  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to the government official listed below. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 116.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.


Acting Director Tony Pham
U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th St., SW
Washington, D.C. 20536
Email: [email protected]


Dear Acting Director Pham,

I am deeply concerned about the safety and wellbeing of Ana* and Victoria*, Juana* and Norma*, and all families detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

With confirmed cases of COVID-19 in family detention facilities like the ones Ana, Victoria, Juana and Norma are in, families face grave complications and even death if they contract the virus. There are credible, consistent, and disturbing accounts by families of dangerous conditions that put all families, facility staff, and surrounding communities at risk.

These families came to the United States seeking protection from violence and persecution. They must be able to pursue the right to seek asylum in safety.

As the acting head of ICE, you are responsible for their health and safety and must take all appropriate steps to protect them from COVID-19.

I call on you to release all the families together.

Yours sincerely,