Demand ICE free Iranian professor Dr. Asgari, infected with COVID-19
To Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement,
We, the undersigned, demand that you immediately move Dr. Asgari to an appropriate medical facility and then allow him to return home to Iran. While he already suffered from a history of respiratory problems, he has now contracted COVID-19 while in your custody.
Dr. Asgari has never committed any crime and has, for years, been asking simply to return to his home in Iran.
Having received his Ph.D. in 1997 from Drexel University in Pennsylvania, Dr. Asgari teaches at Sharif University of Technology in Iran. In 2017, he came to the U.S. to visit his daughters, in the U.S. but upon arriving, he was arrested by the FBI and charged with violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. After more than two years of legal battles, in November 2019 he was found NOT GUILTY but instead of being freed and allowed home to Iran, he has since been held in ICE custody.
Since his detention with you began, Dr. Asgari has been transferred to four different ICE facilities. In just the last month, in the midst of the global pandemic, he was put on nine different flights before ending up at the Winn Correctional Center, a dirty, crowded facility in Louisiana that in December 2019 received attention when it pepper-sprayed migrants protesting for an end to their prolonged detention. Louisiana is one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus.
In ICE detention, Professor Asgari has been sharing living space with between 29 and 44 other detainees. They sleep on rusted metal beds in a room so humid that the bedsheets are constantly wet. There is only one shower, two toilets, and no access to clean clothes. Social distancing and the necessary sanitation to protect against COVID-19 is impossible.
Dr. Asgari has repeatedly raised concerns about ICE bringing new detainees into the close quarters of the facility. After ICE recently brought a new group to his pod, he reported a high fever.
There is an emergency lawsuit underway for Dr. Asgari and 16 other ICE detainees severely at risk from COVID-19 because of medical vulnerabilities, but you can and should act sooner. Move Dr. Asgari immediately to an appropriate medical facility and then allow him to return home to Iran.