Civil Rights Advocates Honored for Health Equity Work

CREEC recognized as a Health Equity Champion by Center for Health Progress On November 10, 2020, Center for Health Progress recognized groups and individuals whose contributions have either reduced inequities in health outcomes and health care or whose work has changed the systems and policies that keep some Coloradans from achieving their best health. This year Center for Health Progress selected Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) as one of two 2020 Health Equity Champion Award winners. Since 1997, Center for Health Progress has held an annual event to bring together Colorado’s health leaders and honor those making important contributions to their community through Health Equity Champion awards. This year’s event included awards two Health Equity Champion Award winners: Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) Law Department of Student Engagement Initiatives at Adams 12 Five Star Schools “Colorado has so many talented, committed leaders doing incredible work across the state, and getting to recognize and thank a few of them is one of my favorite parts of the year,” said Joe Sammen, executive director of Center for Health Progress. “This year’s winners have improved the health and lives of tens of thousands of Coloradans—from changing harmful laws to providing direct support to children and families—and we’re so grateful for all they do.” At this year’s luncheon, Center for Health Project premiered their documentary, The Essentials. Center for Health Project writes that The Essentials “lifts up the voices of our friends and neighbors from around the world who are facing great barriers to survival, but who fight on nonetheless. Their stories expose the true cost of a global...

CREEC Receives Grant Increase from The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation awarded CREEC an additional $100,000 toward its second year of core support of CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project (IDAP)! In October 2019, the Ford Foundation awarded a two-year grant of $150,000 in support of IDAP’s work. In October 2020, the foundation granted an additional $100,000 in support of IDAP, bringing the overall two-year grant total to $250,000. “We are humbled and honored to receive support from the Ford Foundation for IDAP’s work,” stated Elizabeth Jordan, Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project. “This additional funding provides much-needed support for IDAP’s efforts including client needs during COVID-19 and new efforts on behalf of immigrants with disabilities at the southern border. We are grateful to The Ford Foundation for its continued and generous...

Federal Judge Rejects ICE’s ‘Weak’ Implementation of Court-Ordered Custody Determinations of High Risk Individuals and Other Safety Measures

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb inside detention centers, Court finds ICE has fallen “far below” compliance with its previous injunction. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Last night in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal granted civil rights organizations’ motion to enforce a preliminary injunction in their class-action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), ordering the agency to perform custody determinations to all individuals in all of their detention centers across the country with medical risk factors that increase their risk of serious COVID-19 complications in compliance with the Court’s April 20 injunction. In his order, Judge Bernal found that ICE has fallen “far short” of complying with the April 20 order, adding that, “the Court is gravely concerned that Fraihat custody decisions are a disorganized patchwork of non-responses or perfunctory denials” and that, “more active monitoring of Defendants’ compliance is needed.” The Court went on to issue several clarifications to the April 20 injunction including ICE’s obligation to identify and track individuals with risk factors within five days of their detention and to make timely custody determinations, including individuals subject to mandatory detention. The order also clarifies limits on transfers between facilities, a practice that has contributed to massive COVID-19 outbreaks inside detention centers, and bans solitary confinement as a quarantine measure, a punitive and inhumane practice that goes against public health recommendations. “This order shows that ICE has essentially ignored the court for nearly six months,” said Pilar Gonzalez Morales, a senior attorney at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center. “ICE’s actions are not just...

Months Later, the Fraihat Hotline Remains Necessary

“We couldn’t keep up with the calls and voicemails at first,” said Pilar Gonzalez Morales, Senior Staff Attorney at CREEC, “it was a tsunami of people who were in crisis, seeking re-assessment and needing help to do so.” In response to a motion for an emergency preliminary injunction filed by CREEC and co-counsel on March 25, 2020 in Fraihat v ICE, the court ordered ICE to conduct new assessments for every person at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 in ICE custody for release redetermination. If ICE cannot take the medically necessary precautions to protect medically vulnerable people in immigration detention, they should be released and allowed to shelter in place safely in their homes. To ensure contact with those medically vulnerable people, the court also ordered ICE to create a free, confidential hotline that detained people could call to contact Fraihat class counsel in May 2020. The word spread quickly. “The sheer volume of calls to the hotline showed us that ICE had followed at least one requirement of the court’s order and that was to post the redetermination ruling and hotline number in ICE detention jails,” said Gonzalez Morales. Unfortunately, it has also revealed the chaos of ICE’s inadequate COVID-19 response and utter lack of a consistent, navigable process in ICE detention prisons for immigrants who are eligible for re-determination and their advocates to follow. “We have learned from hotline callers that what should be a straight-forward redetermination application process for people who are medically vulnerable and scared of the COVID breeding ground that exists in congregate settings like ICE prisons, is actually a nearly impossible path full...

CREEC Receives Two-Year Grant from The Colorado Health Foundation

Grant will support a project to help remove communications barriers to health care for Deaf people. The Colorado Health Foundation (CHF) awarded CREEC a $150,000 grant over two years through its Amplifying Health Advocacy program. CREEC’s project proposes to investigate denials of legally required effective communication to Deaf Coloradans at health care facilities and then work to remedy violations systemically by providing effective policies and training. By removing this significant barrier – lack of effective communication – this project will help bring health within reach for the Deaf community in Colorado, a community that tends to be marginalized in our current economic, political, and health care systems. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) require medical providers to ensure that communication with Deaf people is as effective as communication with hearing people. For many medical providers working with Deaf people, this requires a qualified sign language interpreter, and not – as commonly but mistakenly assumed – written notes or lip reading. At CREEC, we know from our legal advocacy work with Deaf clients and from our disability rights advocacy colleagues that, unfortunately, Deaf people are frequently denied qualified sign language interpreters in medical settings despite the requirements of the ADA and ACA. As a result, Deaf people are often unable to access important information about their own health, describe their medical history and symptoms, or ask their health care providers questions. Health care providers also often require Deaf people to provide or pay for their own interpreters, which is both explicitly illegal under the ADA and ACA and puts an additional burden on low-income...