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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 of solitary confinement, the failure to provide mental health care, and discrimination against people requiring disability accommodations.

“This administration’s horrific mistreatment of immigrants is not limited to individuals at the border,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director for the SPLC.  “The fact that immigrant detention is supposed to be civil, and not punitive, is a distinction without a difference when it comes to how detained immigrants are treated.  At least twenty-six people have died since Trump took office, and tens of thousands have suffered as a result of the federal government’s abject failure to provide basic medical care at the facilities where taxpayers are spending billions to detain immigrants. More will suffer, and more will die, without court intervention.”

Plaintiff Luis Manual Rodriguez Delgadillo is a 29-year-old man who lived in California almost all of his life before being detained at Adelanto in March 2019.  Most of his family members are U.S. citizens, as are both of his two young children. His mother, Patricia Delgadillo, said “My son has serious mental health needs.  He was stable before being detained, but now he is experiencing hallucinations and other symptoms because they have changed his medication, and he has missed two court dates as a result.  Like any parents, my husband and I suffer with him, and we just want him to be safe.”

All of the named plaintiffs are individuals currently detained by ICE in repurposed prisons and jails.  They have experienced abuse and mistreatment ranging from the denial of proper medical screening and care, to lengthy placement in segregation, to deprivation of medications necessary to manage mental heath disabilities, to discrimination on the basis of disability and the denial of necessities like hearing aids and mobility devices.

Over the course of Fiscal Year 2018, ICE detained approximately 396,448 people pending a hearing on their immigration claims.  Many could be legally released on parole or with a bond, but ICE chooses to detain them instead, at an average cost of $208.00 per individual, per day. Instead, these individuals are packed into immigration prisons in which they are routinely denied healthcare and disability accommodations, are subjected to arbitrary and punitive isolation, and are often unable to use the telephone to call family and attorneys, access a library, or receive recreation. Thousands have suffered in detention, many of whom have abandoned viable immigration claims and accepted deportation out of a desperate desire to be released or to obtain necessary medical care.

“The atrocious conditions in immigrant detention are an open secret,” said Tim Fox, Co-Executive Director at CREEC.  “Dozens of reports –some by the government itself – over decades substantiate the claims in this lawsuit.  The Detainee Death Reports the government publishes when people in immigration detention die in ICE custody provide textbook examples of medical abuse and neglect, yet DHS and ICE have done nothing to address these failures. And the risk is growing exponentially as this Administration needlessly expands detention by thousands of beds each year.”

Other plaintiffs include Jose Segovia Benitez, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who returned home from Iraq after injury from an explosive device and was subsequently diagnosed with depression, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD, and a heart condition. He has received insufficient cardiac care at Adelanto and been placed in solitary confinement, which experts liken to torture, for behavior that may be a manifestation of his mental health disability.

“Immigrants with disabilities are at heightened risk of discrimination in detention,” said Stuart Seaborn, Managing Director of Litigation for DRA.  “Detained individuals who are Deaf or have mobility disabilities are regularly denied access to assistive devices, without which they may not be able to communicate, meet their needs, or participate in programming.”

Plaintiff Al Otro Lado is a non-profit organization that provides pro bono legal services to immigrants. “Our mission is to help immigrants fight their removal cases,” says Al Otro Lado’s Litigation Director, Erika Pinheiro. “But too often, we end up having to help them fight for their lives due to the terrible medical care they are receiving in detention.  When our clients’ health is compromised, their cases suffer, due process violations are common, and they are at heightened risk of deportation.”

Plaintiff Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice is a non-profit organization that advocates for immigrants in California’s Inland Empire, a region in Southern California that is east of Los Angeles. “Seven people in detention have died at Adelanto in the last eight years, and we don’t want ICE to add to that number,” said Javier Hernández, Executive Director of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice.  “We have had to redirect our resources away from advocacy towards adding staff to help people who are detained deal with health emergencies and bond.”

Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages, but instead aim to reform the way our nation treats the human beings who have immigrated to the United States.

***

Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) is a nonprofit membership organization whose goal is to ensure that everyone can fully and independently participate in our nation’s civic life without discrimination based on race, gender, disability, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. https://creeclaw.org/.

Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), founded in 1993, is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center.  Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases.  Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting, housing, and juvenile justice.  https://www.dralegal.org.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.  Through its Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative,  SPLC provides direct representation to immigrants in remote, rural detention centers in two of the states with the highest numbers of detained individuals, Louisiana and Georgia.  https://www.splcenter.org/.

Al Otro Lado (AOL) is a bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico. https://alotrolado.org/.

Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ) is dedicated to convening organizations to collectively advocate and work to improve the lives of immigrant communities while working towards a just solution to the immigration system. https://ic4ij.org/.

Orrick has 27 offices worldwide, and focuses on serving the Technology, Energy & Infrastructure and Finance sectors globally.  Clients worldwide call on Orrick’s teams for forward-looking commercial advice on transactions, litigation and compliance matters.  https://www.orrick.com/en/About-Us.

You can read the complaint here.

Check out our case page here.

 

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.”

mother and son using sign language to communicate with each other. Their faces are not pictured to protect their identity

Photo by: Susan Ferriss/Center for Public Integrity

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 with ICE’s legal obligations to provide effective communications in their detention centers. Working with the son’s lawyer in Arizona and the ACLU’s family separation litigation team we were finally able to reunite our client with her son so they can be together and safely continue their quest for asylum,” says Liz Jordan, Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project at CREEC.

You can read and hear more about how CREEC and others are fighting for the rights of immigrants with disabilities in detention by following this link to National Public Radio’s recent story, Homeland Security’s Civil Rights Unit Lacks Power To Protect Migrant Kids.

How Can You Help? As CREEC is a 501(c)(3), donor support is vital to our ability to provide assistance to people like the mother and son in this article. Consider a charitable gift this year to help CREEC continue to challenge discrimination. Your support matters!

You can make a gift online or contact CREEC’s Development Director, Julie Yates.

 

 

 

Accessibility Project Update: Rights of Disabled Inmates

CREEC is pleased to announce a new resource called Inmates with Disabilities: Know Your Rights.  This resource provides an overview of the rights of disabled inmates and gives examples of potential violations. Please share it with anyone who may benefit from it. We greatly appreciate the work of our summer intern, Jordan Staley, on this project and wish him all the best as he begins his third year at Denver Law. A more detailed discussion of the rights of disabled inmates follows below.

Applicable Laws

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)[1] and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)[2] protect people, including inmates of jails and prisons, from disability discrimination. This means jails and prisons[3] must not discriminate against inmates because of their disability and must give disabled inmates equal access to the programs, services, and benefits of the facility. So, for example, a jail cannot provide classes only in a building that is physically inaccessible to wheelchair users. Similarly, prisons cannot segregate blind inmates by automatically housing all of them in the medical unit.  Individuals with a relationship or association with a disabled person are also protected by these federal laws. So, jails and prisons also cannot discriminate against family members and friends of disabled inmates or disabled family members and friends of nondisabled inmates.

Changes Needed Due to Disability

Sometimes disabled inmates need the facility to make a change to allow them to fully participate in its programs, services, or benefits. The ADA and Section 504 require prisons and jails to make such changes (referred to as accommodations or modifications) as long as they are reasonable. For example, an inmate with a mobility disability may need additional time to travel from their cell to the cafeteria. Or, an inmate with a life-threatening peanut allergy may need their food prepared in a peanut free area of the kitchen. In most cases, it is an inmate’s responsibility to request these reasonable changes and, unless it’s obvious, explain why the change is necessary due to their disability.

Effective Communication

The ADA and Section 504 require correctional facilities to communicate as effectively with inmates with disabilities as with others. Prisons must provide auxiliary aids and/or services when necessary for effective communication. Auxiliary aids/services include sign language interpreters, videophones, Braille documents, audio documents, captioned videos and TV, and explanations of documents. Prisons must tailor an auxiliary aid/service to an inmate’s individual needs and give primary consideration to an inmate’s requested mode of communication. Providing an inmate handbook in only written English will not result in effective communication for a blind inmate or a deaf inmate whose primary language is ASL. Neither will providing a Braille document to someone who is blind but does not read Braille. It is similarly ineffective for a jail to provide a TTY to a deaf inmate whose primary language is ASL. A videophone will be required for effective communication. (Link to our prior videophone article)

Exceptions

Keep in mind that prisons are not required to provide accommodations/modifications or auxiliary aids/services that require a fundamental alteration or impose an undue burden on the facility. Prisons may also exclude a disabled inmate from a program or service if his participation would pose significant health and safety risks or a direct threat to others.

If you or someone you know is being discriminated against in jail or prison, contact CREEC at info@creeclaw.org or 303.757.7901 for possible help.

[1] 42 U.S.C. § 12131.

[2] 29 U.S.C. § 794(a).

[3] Throughout the remainder of this article, the terms prison, jail, and correctional facility will be used interchangeably.

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.

man in a coat and tie facing the cameraAnd, 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 the importance of CREEC’s high impact litigation in disability rights at the national level. “I’ve been glad to see CREEC increasing its national reach in the area of civil rights litigation as well as its full embrace of the educational part of its mission. As CREEC has grown its legal staff, bringing on additional talent and strength, I see only continued excellence on the horizon, resulting in much needed change in the lives of people who need it the most.”  And, when asked how he plans to continue to help CREEC, Alan quipped, “I want CREEC to become a household name in the world of civil rights advocacy. That’s going to take a lot of resources and more hard work. I plan to continue to volunteer my legal help when useful, contribute as much as I can financially whenever I can, and spread the word far and wide about CREEC and its amazing work. I hope others will join me in doing the same.”

CREEC is grateful to Alan and others like him who have asked the question, “How can I help?” And, who have answered it so fully through the dedication of their professional, financial and personal support, believing that true change comes from working together.

You can read more about Professor Chen and his work on the Sturm College of Law website.

You, too, can help support CREEC’s work with an online gift or by attending our Annual Event!

 

 

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 a member of the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration. Soon César will be able to add the 2019 CREEC Challenging Discrimination Award to his list!

Intellectual, activist, teacher, and public commentator, César is a passionate and effective fighter for the rights of individuals and groups and his work creates change well beyond his immediate sphere of influence. We hope that you’ll be able to join us at the History Colorado Center on September 19, 2019 at our Annual Event to honor César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández and to hear more about what he’s done, the change he fuels, and what he plans to do next.

Register* for CREEC’s Annual Event!                                                                                                  Sponsor CREEC’s Event!

*cost should never be a barrier to attendance at CREEC events. Contact Julie (jyates@creeclaw.org|303.757.7901) if the ticket prices are cost prohibitive.

Learn more about César and his work here and check out his blog crimmigration.com.

Welcome Yashna!

Image of Indian-American woman smiling. Greenery in background..Yashna Eswaran is a paralegal in our Colorado office. Yashna graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, with a B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies with Special Honors as well as Health and Society. Her degrees focused on the socio-demographic, cultural, political, and ethical contexts that underlie societal inequities. Yashna has previously worked at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment working on youth and health equity initiatives. Additionally, while in Texas, Yashna has worked at the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, focusing on empowering young people who have been impacted by systems such as foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health. Most recently, Yashna was a Legal Assistant for an Attorney Ad-Litem, working extensively with Child Protective Services cases. Yashna’s academic and professional careers have motivated her to combat the systems that perpetuate injustices and inequities. In her free time, Yashna can be found traveling, eating, and watching Law and Order SVU.

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 philantphoto of a smiling woman in a black shirthropy, 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 a role in support of CREEC’s life-changing work.”

Outside of work, Julie enjoys time with her husband and their two adult children. She loves the outdoors, spending as much time as possible hiking, biking, camping or wandering aimlessly in the woods, fields and streams. Julie also enjoys curling up with a good book, a cup of tea, and her two cats.

We are thrilled that Julie is bringing her longtime fundraising and non-profit leadership experience to advance CREEC’s mission and we assume she will soon be adding a dog to her family.

Interested in supporting the amazing work CREEC does? You can donate online or contact Julie.  jyates@creeclaw.org | 303.757.7901

Deaf Inmate Access to Phone Calls

Connecting with family and friends outside prison can be difficult and expensive for all inmates.  However, once they’ve navigated the prison’s red tape and are able to make a call, hearing inmates can directly communicate with their contacts outside the prison. That is not the case for deaf inmates.  Many jails and prisons across the country offer only outdated and ineffective technology to people who are deaf.  Along with partners including the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), CREEC is working to make sure deaf inmates have effective communication in prisons across the country.  This includes access to effective phone calls, including videophones and CapTel (captioned phones).

For deaf people whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) or another sign language, videophones are necessary for effective phone communication.  Videophones (VPs) allow deaf inmates to communicate in sign language with those outside prison, including friends, family, and attorneys.  When a deaf inmate uses VP to call a deaf person outside prison, there is direct communication in sign language.  When a deaf inmate uses VP to call a hearing person outside prison, the deaf inmate can communicate in sign language through a relay operator who is a sign language interpreter.

Although deaf inmates need VP for effective communication, most prisons only provide teletypewriters (TTY), an outdated technology that requires the parties to type back and forth in English (generally the second language for most deaf people). As one expert explained, “consider the prisoner outrage that would result from a . . . policy . . . require[ing] all prisoners to communicate. . . only by using fax machines.  Communication via fax machines is quite parallel to TTY communication – the communication is asynchronous, you send your communication, wait for a response, hope it is not garbled and hope you have not been misunderstood.”

In addition, because most people outside prison do not have TTYs, two relay operators are usually needed to facilitate the TTY communication.  Typing in written English and utilizing multiple relay interpreters often results in confusion and miscommunication.  Transcripts of TTY calls frequently contain portions which are unreadable.

CREEC currently represents several inmates in a lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) on this issue. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws require CDOC to provide effective communication to deaf inmates.  Each plaintiff asked CDOC for access to a VP but CDOC refused.  CDOC claims TTY is as effective as VP.  These plaintiffs and their expert witnesses have provided evidence that VP is needed by each plaintiff for effective communication.  Both CDOC and our clients recently filed motions.  Each side asked the court to decide without holding a trial whether CDOC must provide access to VPs. Martie Lafferty, CREEC’s Director of Accessibility Projects comments, “Our clients deserve equal access to phone calls.  We hope this court ruling will help make that happen.”

Please contact CREEC if you or someone you know needs help getting a prison to provide access to a VP.  You can also contact us about other communication problems in jail or prison.  We will review the information to see if we can help.  We cannot help with every issue.  Here is our contact information: 303-797-7901 or intakes@creeclaw.org.

 

RESOURCES

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/telecommunications-relay-service-trs

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/video-relay-services

https://www.captel.com/captel/

https://www.wired.com/story/why-many-deaf-prisoners-cant-phone-home/

 

SIMPLIFIED SUMMARY

Prisons should have videophones (VPs) for deaf inmates.  Contact CREEC if you are in prison and need a VP.  Contact CREEC if you know a deaf inmate who needs a VP.  We cannot help everyone who contacts us.  We will review your issue to see if we can help.   Here is our contact information: 303-797-7901 or intakes@creeclaw.org.

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

Image: Two people standing underneath a tree the woman on the right has light skin and dark hair and glasses the man on the left has dark skin dark hair and glasses.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 closely with non-citizen clients and their attorneys, and at Denver Law she’s a part of the Immigration Law and Policy Clinic and an immigration-related student group. She also likes being outside with her dog, so she’ll fit right in at CREEC.

Touting one of the largest externship programs in the country, Denver Law’s Legal Externship Program collaborates with law firms and legal non-profits to provide an experiential experience to effectively bridge the transition from law student to lawyer. Denver Law’s Director of Externships and Public Interest Initiatives, Alexi Freeman, says, “We look for organizations interested and invested in teaching and mentoring students; organizations that will provide our students with meaningful assignments that go beyond what is often the norm for legal interns. CREEC is a multi-faceted and well-respected civil rights organization. It’s broader than just litigation, including education, policy work, and coalition building.”  Freeman goes on to say, “Not many organizations have such a rich history of supporting people with disabilities, incarcerated individuals and immigrants in detention and the intersection among them. I know our students will be involved in cutting-edge legal initiatives and because of CREEC’s small size and collaborative ethos, I know our students’ voices will be heard and their talents well-used. CREEC is a tremendous learning environment for students who are interested in social change.”

Elizabeth Jordan, CREEC’s Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project, enjoys working with externs at CREEC and also appreciates what they bring to the organization. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that without externs our immigration work would not be possible. Their hard work, extensive knowledge and skills, and desire to fight for justice for detained immigrants have greatly expanded our capacity”, states Jordan.

Interested in supporting the next generation of lawyers fighting for social justice? Help support CREEC’s work with Externs here.

Interested in being an Extern at CREEC? Contact resumes@creeclaw.org.

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 wImage: GEO Detention Center in Auroraould 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 here to view the full FOIA case page.

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