Every person who is detained deserves a right to due process and justice under the law.
Even though everyone in ICE detention has only been charged with a civil immigration offense, individuals are criminalized and subjected to inhumane, jail conditions. Moreover, individuals in immigration detention are not guaranteed the right to an attorney when fighting deportation. The stakes are extremely high for detained immigrants, since prolonged detention not only impedes their access to equal justice under the law, but also causes lasting damage to the health and financial security of themselves and their families.
Our Detention team helps detained immigrants obtain release and fight deportation, so that they can be reunited with their families and community. Many of our detained clients are fathers, mothers, and caregivers, and their detention causes incalculable harm to South Florida families and communities. Additionally, many of the people we work with have experienced life-altering trauma before and during detention, for which they cannot receive adequate support while in ICE custody.
AI Justice’s Detention Program regularly visits detention facilities to observe conditions, give Know Your Rights presentations, provide free legal advice, and represent clients before the immigration court and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Access to counsel is a critical factor in determining a detained person’s chances for release or immigration relief. Detained immigrants with legal representation are four times more likely to be released from custody than those without representation.
The remote location of many detention facilities creates severe restrictions on access to counsel and connection to their support systems in the community. Detained immigrants must pay exorbitant fees to make phone calls and have little control over their privacy. All these factors make meeting with an attorney nearly impossible, with only 14% of detained immigrants reporting that they have access to an attorney.
Detention is dangerous. From inadequate access to health care and sanitation to overcrowding and improper use of force, the conditions within detention centers dehumanize and endanger people in custody. In addition to these grave risks to health and safety, detained immigrants are also deprived of their liberties, like religious freedoms and due process rights.
That’s why our Detention Program not only fights for the release of individuals from ICE custody, but also challenges the systemic and pervasive issues that plague the broader practice of immigration detention through public pressure campaigns, policy advocacy and federal litigation.