Paying Forward: CREECs Extern Program

“I have a strong interest in immigration law and policy and heard about the vital work CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project is doing.  Knowing that the attorneys at CREEC have a reputation for doing smart, high-stakes work that improves people’s lives, I applied for a CREEC externship as a way to challenge myself to grow in new areas while doing work I believe in.”  – Allison Crennen-Dunlap, J.D. Candidate, Class of 2019, University of Denver – Sturm College of Law. CREEC Extern Spring 2019 Since 2015, CREEC has offered first-hand experience in civil rights litigation, research and advocacy to area law students through its extern program. Co-Executive Director, Amy Robertson says, “it is always exciting to work with the next generation of civil rights lawyers and leaders, especially in collaboration with Denver Law given its robust commitment to experiential learning.” To date, CREEC has offered experience in civil rights law to 8 externs. This summer is no different, as CREEC welcomes externs Jordan Staley and Kiley Oblisk.  Jordan is a rising third year law student, who will be working with CREEC’s Accessibility Projects including communications access for Deaf and hard of hearing prisoners and hospital patients. During his 2L year, Jordan worked in Denver Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented a federal prisoner in a religious discrimination case. He’s excited to continue working in civil rights this summer and looks forward to the opportunity to learn more about disability law.  Kiley is a rising second year law student joining CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project. Prior to law school, she worked for the Colorado Public Defender in Durango, working especially...

CREEC Moves for Sanctions Against ICE in our FOIA Lawsuit

CREEC is tired of ICE lying to us. Today, we asked a judge to make them stop. Today, because ICE has obscured documents from the public and misled us and a federal judge, CREEC asked that ICE be sanctioned. Fifteen months ago, CREEC took ICE to court for failing to respond to information requests regarding conditions at ICE’s immigration prisons – including whether there was adequate medical care, mental health care, and appropriate accommodations for people with disabilities in ICE custody. For months, CREEC has repeatedly requested that ICE hand over two Detainee Death Reviews – documentation required by law to be created whenever someone dies in ICE custody. CREEC thought the Detainee Death Reviews would shed light on what happened to Vicente Caceres Maradiaga, who died at Adelanto Detention Center in California in May 2017, and Kamyar Samimi, who died at Aurora Detention Center in Colorado in December 2017, about whose deaths little was publicly known. CREEC has also requested certain ICE policies governing health care. Until very recently, ICE pretended like these documents did not exist. This week, CREEC learned that, not only does Mr. Samimi’s death review document exist, it is damning. Mr. Samimi died after experiencing callously neglectful medical practices. We can see why ICE was attempting to hide it. We suspect ICE is doing the same thing with Mr. Caceres Maradiaga’s death review. That’s illegal. Because ICE has obscured these documents from the public and misled us and the judge hearing our case, not to mention wasted our time for months, we asked the judge today to sanction their conduct, award us fees, and order these documents be immediately produced. Click...

Education Report:  Sign Language Interpreters in Medical Settings

Imagine getting sick in, say, rural China. You’ve studied a bit of Chinese and decided to travel there. Then your stomach starts to hurt. A lot. No one at the hospital — from doctors to receptionists — speaks English, so when you try to communicate your symptoms in English, no one understands. They talk to you in Chinese and you understand the basics:  lie down here; where does it hurt? But you need to tell them your medical history; they need to tell you their diagnosis and proposed treatment. Now imagine you’ve come to the hospital in extreme pain, or severely injured in a car accident, or in labor. This is the experience Deaf people encounter every day in their own country in hospitals and doctors’ offices:  they need to explain their symptoms and history and to understand their diagnosis and treatment options in their native language — American Sign Language (ASL) — while medical personnel attempt to communicate with them using written notes or lip reading.  Since ASL is a completely different language from English — and the latter generally a second language for most Deaf people — this puts the Deaf patient in the same situation as the traveler above.  And written notes? Even if you’re fluent in English, imagine conducting your next doctor’s appointment — or emergency room visit or childbirth — by writing notes back and forth with doctors, nurses, and technicians; now imagine (if you’re native English speaker) writing back and forth in French or Russian. Imagine being a doctor and trying to obtain informed consent under these circumstances. Medical personnel should be insisting...

What’s IDAP Been Up To Lately?

Since its formation in September 2018, CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project (IDAP) has fought to assert the rights of and improve conditions for hundreds of immigrants in ICE custody in Colorado and across the nation and is laying the groundwork for future litigation efforts. Under Director Liz Jordan’s leadership, IDAP has focused on three key areas thus far: legal challenge of conditions of confinement in immigration detention centers, legal challenge of discrimination against detained immigrants with disabilities, and education and outreach on detention conditions and treatment of immigrants with disabilities. Recent projects include procurement of previously unreleased documents relating to life-threatening treatment of detainees in Colorado and California; cessation of improper use of federal prisons for immigrant detention in California; multiple advocacy efforts; and educational initiatives to raise public awareness of the conditions facing immigrant detainees and their civil rights. In an  ongoing transparency litigation case in Colorado, IDAP procured previously unreleased ICE documents relating to deaths of immigrants in detention and treatment of people with disabilities. These documents had never before been made public and are part of a larger effort to hold ICE accountable to the public through the release of information. Last summer, IDAP also filed a federal class action lawsuit in Victorville, California on behalf of asylum seekers who were being illegally held in a federal prison despite not having criminal convictions. As a result of CREEC’s lawsuit, the U.S. government’s practice of holding detainees who have not committed a crime was discontinued at this prison. Additionally, IDAP offers civil rights consultation to lawyers for immigrants with disabilities, represents people in ICE custody, advocates for...

Colorado Springs Agrees to Install over 15,000 Accessible Curb Ramps in Next 14 Years.

Release Date: March 20, 2019 Colorado Springs – The City of Colorado Springs has settled a class action lawsuit by committing to installing over 15,000 accessible curb ramps throughout the city in the next 14 years. Curb ramps provide people with mobility disabilities a safe way to get on and off sidewalks as they travel through the pedestrian right of way. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the country. Census figures estimate that 56.7 million, or 1 in 5 Americans, has a disability.  In Colorado Springs alone, there are approximately 24,000 people with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, walkers, scooters or other mobility devices to get around. Missing, broken or poorly maintained curb ramps prevent people with mobility disabilities from safely using sidewalks, crosswalks and other walkways to participate in daily activities like getting to work or going to school. “I appreciate not only that this agreement will allow me to get to and from work more efficiently, but also that, when I find a problem, Colorado Springs has a system set up to resolve it. I look forward to my increased independence,” said Paul Spotts, one of the plaintiffs. Sharon King, another plaintiff, explains, “It’s frustrating when I am just trying to do my errands and I cannot get across a street because there is no curb ramp. I’m so excited that we have been able to reach this agreement with Colorado Springs so that I can get where I need to go without these barriers, just like everyone else.” “Federal and state disability access laws were enacted decades ago to provide persons with disabilities...

CREEC’s IDAP Director Quoted in Westword re: Aurora’s Immigration Detention Facility’s Expansion

Excellent article from Westword about Aurora’s Immigration Detention Facility’s sudden expansion. CREEC’s own IDAP Director, Liz Jordan, weighs in: “In June, ICE started moving hundreds of its detainees to federal prisons across the country because the government lacked enough space in its immigration detention center, according to an NPR report. In a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Jordan’s organization in August 2018, lawyers representing plaintiffs in a prison in California argued that conditions there were deplorable. “As a result of the unconstitutional treatment of these civil detainees, many have expressed a desire to be returned, immediately, to their countries of origin — foregoing their claims for immigration relief altogether — because they would rather face the dangers back home than be imprisoned in these abysmal conditions,” part of the complaint reads. As of October 2018, ICE had largely stopped using federal prisons to house detainees, according to NPR. Jordan is worried that something similar could happen at the recently opened annex in Aurora. “We are concerned that the facilities are unprepared for this influx [of new detainees], which could result in really horrifying conditions for people that have to sit in these wings while they get up and running.” Jordan says it is unclear whether the facility will add staff to manage the additional detainees.” Click here to read the whole...