Our client Amani was released from La Palma Detention Center and reunited with his family in Phoenix after being detained for over a year!

Amani struggled in detention, where neither guards nor nurses spoke his native Kirundi or Swahili. In April, he contracted COVID-19—as more than 100 people have in La Palma. He had to be put on a ventilator at a nearby hospital for coronavirus complications and pneumonia. Amani was unable to speak with his legal team or family while hospitalized, and he worried no one would tell them if he died.

The Florence Project saw this crisis coming. We knew how quickly disease can spread in detention facilities. We have been mass-filing humanitarian parole requests since March. Few are granted. Many go unanswered. And Amani’s pleas were no exception.

Florence Project legal assistant Isabel Ball, social worker Jesús Gonzalez, and attorney Valentina Restrepo-Montoya filed another humanitarian parole request when the hospital prepared to discharge Amani. Once again, ICE refused to release him to his longtime home in Phoenix, where he could recover with his family. Amani went back to detention. But less than two days passed before he had to be transported to the hospital again, because he had not fully stabilized.

Fortunately, after many in-court pleas, an immigration judge validated Amani’s plight and released him in exchange for assurances from the Florence Project that he would continue to receive healthcare and attend future hearings.

He got out in time to spend Father’s Day with his wife and kids!