Press Release: Civil Rights Groups Charge that ICE Disregards Immigrants’ Medical, Mental Health Needs and Ignores Discrimination Against Immigrants with Disabilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 19, 2019 Civil Rights Groups Charge that ICE Disregards Immigrants’ Medical, Mental Health Needs and Ignores Discrimination Against Immigrants with Disabilities New Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Highlights Abusive Isolation, Horrific Medical and Mental Health Care, and Denial of Accommodations to and Discrimination Against Detained Immigrants with Disabilities Los Angeles —A nationwide class action lawsuit was filed today against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and others acting in their official capacities.  The lawsuit challenges the federal government’s failure to ensure detained immigrants receive appropriate medical and mental health care, its punitive use of segregation in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and its failure to ensure that detained immigrants with disabilities are provided accommodations and do not face discrimination as required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The lawsuit was filed by Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 15 individuals detained at eight different facilities in six states, representing a class of approximately 55,000 immigrants imprisoned by ICE on any given day, and two nonprofit organizations, Al Otro Lado and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ). The lawsuit challenges ICE’s systemic failures to enforce constitutional and statutory requirements at the approximately 158  facilities across the country where people in immigrant detention are held, resulting in the delay and outright denial of medical care, the punitive use...

Fighting for the Rights of Deaf Immigrants in Detention

“I was so sad. So afraid I’d never see my son again. I had no idea that they [US Customs and Border Patrol] would separate us, especially in the case of my son who is deaf and who can’t communicate easily,” says an asylum-seeking mom from Guatemala who prefers to remain anonymous for safety reasons. She goes on to say that CREEC’s Liz Jordan “helped me communicate with my son, and closely followed what was happening to me. Without CREEC’s help I would not have been able to figure out what was happening with my son and I would not have been able to fight my case.” Separated from his mother soon after crossing the border in April 2018, a 17-yr old deaf asylum seeker was transported alone hundreds of miles away to an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter in Arizona – without interpretation services or accommodations of any kind. His only means of communication? Drawing pictures. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother was sent to the ICE detention center in Aurora, Colorado where she asked for a video call with her son. Her requests were ignored. She says, “I felt so alone when I first got to Aurora. I didn’t know what I had to do. I met with a pro bono attorney and explained everything that had happened with me and my son and that he was deaf. They referred my case to CREEC. I remember my first visit from CREEC. I felt so much more supported. I felt myself come back to life a bit.” “It was a long fight involving multiple requests for a video call, consistent...

How Can I Help?

Helping has been a central them in Alan Chen’s life and career. From precedent setting First Amendment work that helped expose misconduct on factory farms to teaching the next generation of civil rights lawyers at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Alan’s work has helped right wrongs and has inspired others to follow suit for decades. And, from the beginning, Alan has been here to help CREEC, too. Alan says, “I’d known and respected Tim and Amy for years when they did their civil rights work through their law firm, Fox & Robertson. I was impressed with their lawyering and their strategic thinking. When Amy & Tim decided to form CREEC as a 501(c)(3) in order to deepen and broaden their impact, I was immediately interested.” From day one, Alan volunteered as a member of CREEC’s legal panel, a role he has also played for the ACLU of Colorado. “Volunteering on the panel gave me an opportunity to really see the detail of CREEC’s legal work in action. I was especially struck by CREEC’s probing and thorough pre-case research. CREEC’s lawyers are truly masterful when it comes to legal research, engendering a high level of trust in their work from the very beginning. Tim, Amy, Bill, Liz, and Martie are all such committed, high-level lawyers.” A few years later when he was asked to join CREEC’s Board of Directors, Alan says that he didn’t hesitate. “I fully resonate with CREEC’s mission and am proud to play even a small role in the organization’s success.” When asked what he thinks the future holds for CREEC, Alan remarked on...

Announcing CREEC’s 2019 Challenging Discrimination Award Winner

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center is honored to announce César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández as the winner of this year’s Challenging Discrimination Award for his dedicated and distinguished service to the immigration law and policy community and to the broader civil rights community in Denver and nationally. A tenured associate professor of law at the University of Denver, César is a leading scholar in crimmigration law, defined as the intersection of criminal law and immigration law. Widely published in academic journals and popular media outlets, César’s second book, Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession With Locking Up Immigrants, will be released in December by the social justice publisher The New Press. His seminal book Crimmigration Law (American Bar Association Publishing 2015) has become required reading for anyone pursuing work in the field. In addition to providing tools for immigration and civil rights attorneys to better represent their clients in the fight for systemic change, César generously and effectively shares his expertise with the general public, thereby magnifying his opportunities to create change in our world. César is a frequent contributor to national and international media outlets such as the BBC, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and La Opinión through op-eds and interviews. He also writes a popular blog and has a large Twitter following. César’s academic and professional accolades are many and include being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Slovenia, being appointed as a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Henderson Center for Social Justice, and receiving the Derrick Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools Section on Minority Groups. César is...

Welcome Julie!

CREEC is pleased to announce the appointment of our first Development Director, Julie Yates. Julie will be building a comprehensive fundraising program for CREEC and will be working to deepen relationships and enhance communication between CREEC and you, our supporters! An experienced fundraising professional and educator with a passion for making the world a better place, Julie has more than two decades of demonstrated success in the areas of philanthropy, relationship building, strategic thinking, and problem solving. Julie comes to CREEC from The White Mountain School where she served as Development Director, growing their fundraising program, building a strategic communications plan, and leading the School’s largest-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. A long-time educator, Julie has deep personal interest in human rights and social justice and is looking forward to using her professional skills in service of CREEC’s mission and vision. Julie graduated magna cum laude from Smith College with a BA in Biology and later earned her MS in Science Education from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Julie has taught biology and chemistry at Blair Academy, NJ, St. Paul’s School, NH, and The White Mountain School, NH where she was also appointed to multiple administrative positions during her 18 years of service. Julie says about her new position at CREEC, “I am so excited to share with others information about the incredible work CREEC does to challenge discrimination and to help raise necessary funds so my colleagues at CREEC can continue their vital work. Our world needs more organizations like CREEC with the will, heart, and intellectual power to lead much needed social change. I’m truly honored to play...