CREEC Receives RMIAN 2022 Pro Bono Service Award

Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) Names CREEC as Pro Bono Service Award Honoree

On July 29, CREEC received RMIAN’s 2022 Pro Bono Service Award in honor of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project’s (IDAP) work. See below for the IDAP team’s acceptance speech.

From RMIAN’s website: “Each year, the Immigrant Liberty Awards serve to celebrate the outstanding contributions of exceptional advocates and community leaders advancing the rights and well-being of immigrants and refugees in Colorado. This year’s theme of ‘On the Horizon,’ recognizes the pathways toward justice being innovated by this year’s honorees and other outstanding members of the immigrant and advocacy communities. The groundwork being laid through legislation, advocacy, direct services, and community outreach has cemented Colorado at the forefront of the movement for justice for immigrants.” 

Remarks for RMIAN Award (Video) Acceptance | Video Transcription:

First Speaker: Hello! My name is Caroline Sprague and I work as the paralegal for the Immigration Detention Accountability Project at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, or CREEC. For a visual description: I am a white person with long brown hair. I am wearing a white button-down shirt and my background is blurry. Thank you so much for honoring CREEC this year with an Immigrant Liberty Award. We’re very proud to be recognized along with leaders like Luis and Representative Ricks, and we are deeply grateful for the work RMIAN does here in Colorado to support the immigrant members of our communities and their families.The Immigration Detention Accountability Project, or IDAP, uses strategies including impact litigation, direct representation, and rights education to fight for decarceration and full human rights for survivors of ICE, CBP, and immigration courts. We primarily work with those who are disabled, with the knowledge that our immigration system is ableist and often is disabling. We learn from and are led by impacted communities and organizers, without whom true justice is not possible.

Second Speaker: Good evening. My name is Liz Jordan, and I am the Director of IDAP at CREEC. I am a white person with curly brown hair. I am wearing a blue dress and my background is a dining room in Innsbruck, Austria, where I am currently stuck trying to get back to Colorado and thus unable to join you tonight. Since August 2019, CREEC and co-counsel have been litigating a systemwide, class-action challenge to ICE’s abysmal medical and mental health care, lack of disability accommodations, and abusive solitary confinement practices throughout its sprawling system of jails and prisons used to incarcerate immigrants. The case is called Fraihat v. ICE and it is docketed in the Central District of California. In the Spring of 2020, in Fraihat, we asked for and were granted an emergency court order to address systemic failures in ICE’s response to the spread of COVID in its detention system. It would not have been possible to make our case without using evidence from directly impacted people at the GEO facility in Aurora and RMIAN attorneys. The centerpiece of the relief we won was a custody review for every single person at heightened risk of COVID complications or death in the ICE system, so that ICE must consider letting people go home and shelter in place with their families. Unfortunately, a panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the emergency order, which became binding on July 14, 2022. Nevertheless, I believe that many clients of RMIAN and its pro bono partners gained release after a Fraihat review, and we are proud to share that, for the more than two years that the emergency order was in place, tens of thousands of people around the country were released out of ICE prisons and back to their families. This is, to my knowledge, the most liberatory court order ever entered against ICE.

Third Speaker: Hi, everyone. My name is Golnaz Fakhimi. I’m a Senior Staff Attorney within IDAP at CREEC. For a visual description: I’m a middle-eastern person with light brown skin, dark brown eyes, and long hair that’s mostly dark brown (although the greys are increasing daily). I’m wearing a white blazer and black shirt and sitting against a grey cushion with a white wall behind it. I’m relatively new to CREEC and can’t say enough to you how much I love working with Liz and Caroline, in collaboration with myriad clients, allies, and partners, including RMIAN. Liz’s description of the COVID-related outcomes in Fraihat really captures just how precarious any victory in the courts can be, particularly as litigation winds its way upward through appellate review that’s done increasingly by appointees who are hostile to the rights and power of structurally marginalized people. Within IDAP, we don’t believe that the courts will produce the abolition of carceral systems and other forms of structural violence. For abolition ever to happen by consensus, we believe that each of us needs continually to test our assumptions and to root ourselves in the understanding that we are all connected and interdependent, that none of us can be truly free until all of us are free, and that doing harm can never meaningfully remedy or prevent harm. We encourage everyone to learn more about the practice of abolition and to apply it, within yourselves and in community, with each other and us; and we thank you all so much for honoring IDAP’s pro bono work and for all that you do pro bono.