Making It All Real: Externship Experience at CREEC

“Having the chance to extern at CREEC put the sensationalized world of docudrama crime and the legal system in a new light for me,” says Sophia Peterson Swarthmore College ‘23, “It made it all real, made the people real. And it also made me better understand the systemic nature of the problems as well as the many ways different people are fighting hard to address the problems.” For one week this January, CREEC had the honor of hosting two students from Swarthmore who were participating in the college’s Extern Program. This relatively short January externship experience has a job-shadowing focus. “CREEC has participated in this program since 2017,” says Co-executive Director Amy Robertson and Swarthmore alumna ’83, “and one of the best things about it is the multi-faceted exposure students get to various careers.” CREEC was fortunate to host Marième Diop, Swarthmore ’18, during an extended externship in 2017, and even more fortunate when she returned as a paralegal after graduation. Here at CREEC we try to offer as many different opportunities as possible to our externs, providing both breadth and depth to the experience. This year externs Sophia Peterson ‘23 and Shaurya Bhaskar ’22 participated in myriad facets of the civil rights legal and advocacy world including, attending an Emotional Support Animal Stakeholder Meeting relating to pending legislation at which Amy Robertson contributed information about ADA considerations;  a day at Denver’s Federal Courthouse where they spoke with Magistrate Judge Neureiter and saw several court proceedings including charging, sentencing and some civil cases; saw Boulder civil rights and criminal defense attorney Gail Johnson in action questioning witnesses at a...

Welcome Pilar!

We are excited to announce the opening of CREEC’s Los Angeles office and the appointment of Pilar Gonzalez Morales as our new Senior Staff Attorney! Pilar focuses on civil rights issues at the intersection of disability and immigration rights and comes to CREEC with a wealth of experience. Prior to joining CREEC, Pilar worked at Disability Rights California where she represented children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as well as people with disabilities held in immigration detention. Pilar strongly advocates for the use of an intersectional framework within the disability rights movement to ensure that people of color, LGBTQI, immigrants and other often underserved communities benefit from and lead the fight for the civil rights of all people with disabilities. She also worked for four years at Arias and Munoz (currently Dentons Munoz) in Costa Rica where she enjoyed many outdoor activities and was part of the Litigation and Mediation team. Pilar says about her new position, “I’m incredibly pleased to be joining CREEC because of its commitment to enforcing civil rights laws across the nation, including for some of the most underserved communities. CREEC’s work at the intersection of disability and immigration issues is not only innovative, it also ensures that the disability rights community reflects the needs of all people with disabilities across the country.” Pilar has a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from Duke University. Outside of work Pilar spends a great deal of time hanging out with her three nephews, watching futbol, and reading. We are thrilled to have Pilar as part of the team and are...

On the Road

CREEC attorney and Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project, Liz Jordan,  participated in the Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Summit 2019 this fall. At CREEC, we take seriously the education part of our name. Participation in conferences, trainings, and meetings to share and learn is crucial to our work and central to our organizational values. I was so excited to accept the invitation to participate in the Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Summit 2019, hosted by two long-standing partners, Access Living and the National Immigrant Justice Center. The goal of the summit was to explore the intersection of disability and immigration rights with advocates and directly impacted people, forge relationships, and develop concrete tools for advancing the rights of immigrants with disabilities. Plus, I was excited to finally meet in person many people in the Chicago area who I had previously only emailed with! On the first day, I presented on a panel titled, “Current Disability Rights for Immigrants: Legislative and Regulatory Landscape.” We discussed the applicable disability laws and constitutional protections for immigrants with disabilities. I focused my remarks on the rights of people in ICE custody. Later that day, I was honored to moderate a panel of fearless advocates who discussed the tools they use to support immigrants with disabilities. I was also very moved to listen to a panel of immigrants with disabilities sharing their stories of coming to the U.S. and navigating the immigration and other systems here. On the second day of the summit, I presented on a panel titled, “Spotlight: Mental Health and Immigration”. Here, I focused my presentation on our recently-filed Fraihat v...

CREEC Receives Grant from Borealis Philanthropy

Grant Will Support Work of CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project (IDAP) Borealis Philanthropy’s Immigration Litigation Fund has awarded CREEC a $75,000 grant to support IDAP’s work to advance systemic change litigation on behalf of immigrants in detention. In August, 2019, CREEC and others filed a nationwide class action against ICE for failure to monitor detention centers, resulting in unlawful conditions of confinement – inadequate medical/mental health care, improper use of segregation and disability discrimination. Our clients have experienced horrific conditions of confinement resulting in disastrous medical consequences for them, risk of harm, and discrimination on the basis of their disability. Elizabeth Jordan, Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project, states, “The Fraihat v ICE case is going to take a lot of time and resources to bring to a just and humane conclusion. The Borealis grant will help us ensure that our brave clients have their day in court in a way that advances their rights and ensures systemic change to help incarcerated immigrants. We are grateful to Borealis for their support of CREEC and others who are working to make sure that the civil and human rights of all people are met.” Borealis Philanthropy works with funders to direct resources to people building powerful and thriving communities. Borealis’ Immigration Litigation Fund is a national funder collaborative whose goal is to ensure that the nation’s immigration enforcement system is fair, humane, and prioritizes the civil and human rights of those vulnerable to deportation. This is the second year that IDAP has applied for and received grant funding through the Immigration Litigation...

Celebration and Inspiration – CREEC’s Annual Event

Success! CREEC’s Annual Event, held on September 19, 2019, was met with resounding success. A beautiful evening greeted all 121 attendees at the History Colorado Center, many of whom enjoyed the spectacular city view from the balcony before heading inside to listen to remarks from Co-Executive Directors, Amy and Tim, and this year’s Challenging Discrimination Award recipient, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández. This year’s event attracted teachers, lawyers, nonprofit professionals, volunteers, business people, graduate/law students, activists, parents, kids, and more. Amid the fun of the selfie photo booth with ‘Challenge Discrimination’ and ‘Badass Seeker of Justice’ signs, the ‘I Challenge Discrimination by…’ message board, and the overflowing information table with contributions from more than a dozen area non-profits, conversation flowed, and connections were made. The pervasive feeling seemed to be that together, we would continue to make positive change in our world. Our event was made possible by the generous support of our 29 sponsors (who collectively gave more than $42,000), our event ticket holders, and CREEC’s numerous clients, ambassadors and advocates. Thank you one and all! Whether or not you were able to attend CREEC’s event this year, you may enjoy checking out these resources: César’s inspiring remarks Photos from the evening Event slideshow showing highlights from CREEC’s year in review (alt text provided) Haven’t supported CREEC yet this year, but want to? Given to CREEC already, but want to give again? Text-to-Donate: Text “SupportCREEC” to 44321 Give Online Mail your check to 104 Broadway, Ste 400 | Denver, CO 80203 Contact director of development, Julie Yates at jyates@creeclaw.org or...

Who is impacted by ICE’s disregard of medical, mental health, and disability needs of detained immigrants? Too many people. CREEC and others are working to put an end to it.

A refugee from Sudan, Hamida Ali has a mental disability and a history of suicide attempts. Despite this, Ms. Ali was left in a dorm by herself with no other detained individuals or guards for nine months, exacerbating her symptoms.   Edilberto Garcia Guerrero experiences chronic headaches and pain in his neck, shoulder, ear, and eye. He also has diminished vision and hearing. These all stem from an assault he suffered in ICE custody and have not been addressed by medical staff. Mr. Guerrero previously had reconstructive ankle surgery after falling off a roof. He fell in ICE custody while in ankle cuffs, causing the breakage or dislocation of screws from his previous surgery. Mr. Guerrero is still waiting for surgery. These are just two people among the 15 individual plaintiffs and two organizational plaintiffs, Al Otro Lado and Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, named in a nationwide federal class action lawsuit filed on August 19, 2019 by  CREEC, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, LLP. And our plaintiffs are not alone in suffering at the hands of ICE and their contractors. On any given day, about 55,000 people are being held in ICE custody.  Last year, ICE detained a total of almost 400,000 immigrants. The Trump administration has funneled record numbers of immigrants into ICE prisons across America, subjecting thousands of men and women to in horrific, inhumane conditions in repurposed prisons and jails. These men and women are asylum seekers, longtime American residents, military veterans, teenagers, and refugees, among others. “In two years of investigating conditions for people...