Saturday, April 20, 2024

Biden Administration Accused of Holding Migrants Without Legal Counsel

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other legal groups filed a lawsuit against the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Oct. 13, alleging that migrants held at four detention facilities in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Arizona have been denied legal representation.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that attorneys face “numerous obstacles” in attempting to communicate with detained migrants, therefore making representation “extremely difficult and, sometimes, impossible.”

The lawsuit alleges that attorneys have had difficulty scheduling legal calls and having meetings with their clients in confidential settings.

“Access to counsel can be a matter of life or death for immigrants detained by ICE,” said Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “When people can’t communicate with their attorneys, it increases the chance they will lose their case – an outcome that ultimately affects whether or not they will be permanently separated from their loved ones or sent back to dangerous conditions from which they fled. It’s past time ICE followed the law and their own policies.”

According to an ACLU press release, research has shown “detained people with representation are almost seven times more likely to be released from custody and 10 times more likely to win their immigration cases than those without.”

The lawsuit names four specific detention facilities: Arizona’s Florence Correctional Center, Florida’s Krome Service Processing Center, Texas’ Laredo Processing Center and Louisiana’s River Correctional Center.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Americans for Immigrant Justice, Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the Immigration Justice Campaign for the American Immigration Council and other legal service organizations.

Emma Winger, senior attorney at the American Immigration Council, called immigration detention “cruel, punitive, and unnecessary.

“The government locks people up — often in remote facilities far from family and legal services providers — while erecting arbitrary barriers to accessing counsel,” she said. “Immigrants in detention should not have to struggle to have private conversations with their lawyers. The stakes are too high.”

In a related move, the the Biden administration has announced it will expand Title 42 by applying it to Venezuelans, while also providing parole for some Venezuelans who already have family ties in the United States. The new agreement with Mexico means many Venezuelans crossing the Southern Border to seek protection under U.S. asylum law will be expelled to Mexico.

“The Biden administration’s decision to expand the use of Title 42 by applying it to Venezuelans is extremely concerning. People have a right to seek asylum – regardless of where they came from, how they arrive in the United States, and whether or not they have family here,” said Lee Gelernt, lead litigator for the ACLU. “We can’t celebrate the administration’s move to create a path to safety for some Venezuelans, if the price to pay is cutting off access for many others and attempting to entrench an illegal policy.

“The administration’s decision further demonstrates that so long as the Title 42 policy remains in effect, it will continue to cause grave harm to people seeking protection,” he said

Data supplied by Fox News Digital indicates there have been more than two million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, as border patrol agents face an unprecedented influx of migrants at the Southern Border — which the Biden administration has so far failed to slow, despite the president’s ongoing claims that the border is “secure.”