Fall 2015 Newsletter
Message from our Executive Director

The mean-spirited, fearful, anti-immigrant rhetoric inundating the airwaves these days is unworthy of our country which was built by immigrants. While we at AI Justice have our hands full fighting to protect the basic rights of immigrants, we cannot let Donald Trump's demagoguery go unchallenged. His remarks could set back approval of a rational, humane immigration policy for decades - claiming legitimacy for racist voices, making sound immigration reform too hot for well-intentioned legislators, and encouraging the harshest treatment of defenseless immigrants.  
So we are redoubling efforts to present another voice and stiffen the spines of our allies. You have been generous to us in the past and so I am reluctant to ask more of you. But if you can afford to make a special one-time  gift  to AI Justice to help us add this challenge to our long list of needs I would be extremely grateful. As Gandhi said: "Eventually good always triumphs over evil."   However, only when people of good-will like you stand up and be counted will good prevail.

Cheryl Little, Esq.

P.S. In case you missed our recent email, separating fact from fiction, 
AI Justice Celebrates our 20th Anniversary!

Please join us on February 26, 2016 as we celebrate 20 years of Upholding the American Drea m at Miami's Hotel InterContinental. 
Sharon Kegerreis and Mitchell Berger will serve as the Dinner's Honorary Chairs .  More details to come....
New Board of Directors Members

We are pleased to welcome two wonderful members of our community to our Board.
Johanna Rousseaux, Esq.
Of Counsel, Jones Day
Rabbi Judith Siegal
Senior Rabbi, Temple Judea
Asylum Applicants in Detention Face Abuse and Humiliation
AI Justice had to reach out to officials in Washington, D.C. to obtain justice for "Elisa", a survivor of domestic violence who was detained at the Broward Transitional Center (BTC) for a year despite an Asylum Officer's finding that she had a credible fear of persecution if deported.  Her long-term detention exacerbated the trauma she suffered back home at the hands of her abuser.  While detained, Elisa was repeatedly hospitalized for treatment of depression, and prescribed a cocktail of drugs which only worsened her condition.  BTC's own doctors recognized that BTC was an inappropriate environment for her and requested Elisa's removal from the facility.  
The immigration judge at BTC wrongfully denied Elisa's asylum case and we appealed his decision and won. Although a new date was set for Elisa's asylum claim to again be considered, her deteriorating mental state prevented her from helping prepare her case.  After local officials denied Elisa's release, we contacted officials in D.C. and she was finally united with her sponsor in Miami.  In the short time since, she has recovered significantly and finally feels safe and free.
"I will forever be grateful to AI Justice for what they did for me." - Elisa

AI Justice represents "Luis" and "Manuel", two brothers who fled Central America in 2004 to escape constant threats on their lives.  Both gay, they initially fled to Mexico seeking protection, but while in immigration detention there Luis was sexually assaulted.  Although the brothers were granted refugee status in Mexico, they continued to be targeted due to their sexual orientation and fled to the U.S.
Upon arrival in South Florida, the brothers were taken to BTC and Asylum Officers found that they had a credible fear of persecution if deported. However, rather than being released they were subjected to constant threats and abuse that detention officials were unable or unwilling to prevent. On June 16, 2015, Manuel was the victim of a brutal sexual battery and the Broward Sheriff's office arrested the perpetrator. Following the assault, Manuel became increasingly anxious and depressed but rather than release him, ICE transferred him to a local hospital for mental health care on two occasions.  
AI Justice finally obtained Manuel's release in mid-July 2015 and then fought to obtain Luis's release, whose mental health was deteriorating.  Instead of releasing him, ICE transferred him to Krome, allegedly for his "safety".  AI Justice contacted officials in D.C. and Luis was reunited with his brother in mid-August, 2015.  Both are now recovering while they await their asylum hearings.

"We don't know what we would have done without AI Justice." - Manuel

Cheryl Little Honored by FIU College of Law
AI Justice Executive Director, Cheryl Little, was presented with the FIU Medallion -  Cal Kovens Distinguished Community Service Award at the FIU College of Law's Commencement Ceremony in May.  
U.S. Government Accountability Office Investigates Conditions in CBP Holding Cells (" hieleras")

AI Justice was contacted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is conducting an investigation into the "hieleras" - holding cells at the U.S. border with Mexico referred to by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers as 'ice boxes' because temperatures inside are freezing cold. Our Executive Director spoke at length with GAO staff regarding our concerns and made recommendations for reform.  AI Justice has been at the forefront of calling attention to inhumane conditions in the hieleras for years.

Federal Court Case Settled

In March of 2014, AI Justice filed a lawsuit in federal court to compel CBP to respond to our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request regarding detention conditions in the hieleras.  By mid-August 2015, the government had produced most of the pertinent documents and a settlement of $8,750 was paid to AI Justice.

AI Justice Celebrates Long-time Staff Members

AI Justice celebrated the many accomplishments of its talented staff at a recent meeting. The following individuals were recognized for their long tenure with AI Justice:

Oscar Alvarez - 11 years
Julie Anderson - 7 years
Sharon Ginter - 19 years
Sandra Maldonado - 10 years
Monique Noceda - 9 years
Haydee Rodriguez - 15 years
Pierre Saintil - 15 years
Yolanda Vasquez - 7 years

Thank you all for your years of advocacy and commitment to protecting and promoting the basic human rights of immigrants.

News from the Young Professionals of AI Justice

The YPAIJ gathered on August 20 to network, collect school supplies and raise awareness of AI Justice's mission.  Thank you to all of those who attended and donated.  The clients and children of clients who received the donations were thrilled!

Americans for Immigrant Justice
3000 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 400 Miami, FL 33137