For Immediate Release
Lisa Lehner, Director of Litigation
Miami, FL – (October 16, 2019) – Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) has filed a Complaint and Request for Action on behalf of its clients and other Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees housed at the Glades County Detention Center (Glades) in Moore Haven, Florida. Serious concerns regarding Glades detainees’ access to counsel and the courts have been raised with ICE and Glades officials over the years, to no avail. The Complaint, which was filed with the Office of the Inspector General and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for the Department of Homeland Security, along with Glades County officials, details the extent to which detainees’ lack of access to counsel deprives them of their basic constitutional rights.
Barriers to detainees’ access to counsel include no dedicated, confidential attorney client meeting space; unnecessary attorney wait times; unreasonable time limitations on and disruptions to legal visitations and phone calls; the monitoring of phone calls and legal correspondence; and the lack of sufficient access to the law library and other critical legal resources. These obstacles are even more significant because the jail is in a remote area of Florida and attorneys must travel from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale to meet with their clients.
Those without attorneys and in need of pro bono assistance are especially vulnerable. As stated by Executive Director Cheryl Little, “AI Justice is among the few Florida-based legal services agencies providing pro bono help to immigrants facing removal, and the demand overwhelms available resources. There is no right to government funded legal representation in immigration court and the vast majority of Glades detainees cannot afford to hire an attorney. Without pro-bono help they have little to no chance of winning their case.”
Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) is an award-winning non-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, it champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocates for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speaks for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.