Immigration Detention Accountability Project

Detention Cages Dreams.

Public art painting on a grungy concrete wall of birds flying free through a hole in a fence

Immigration prisons don’t get us out of a problem. They are the problem.

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

Mission

The Immigration Detention Accountability Project (IDAP) works at the intersection of immigrant and disability justice. Through impact litigation, direct representation, and education, we fight for people in contact with our country’s ableist immigration system. 

Our project believes that immigration detention must be abolished. To that end, we strategize towards accountability, decarceration, and full human rights for survivors of ICE, CBP, and immigration courts, primarily working with those who are disabled. 

As an abolitionist legal organization, we are confronted every day by the law itself. ‘The Law’ is not neutral, and it is not just: it is a collection of historical and present-day choices that make up a white supremacist, imperialist, heterosexist, and ableist system. We learn from and are led by impacted communities and organizers, without whom true justice is not possible.  

How IDAP Helps

We represent organizational and individual plaintiffs in systemic change litigation addressing failures in ICE detention, DHS policy and practice, and the immigration legal system broadly.  

We engage in individual representation for detained and non-detained immigrants to advocate for better medical and mental health care, as well as disability accommodations (including release). We assist other attorneys, community organizers, and other allies, educating on the intersections of disability and immigration law.  

If you or someone you know is experiencing discrimination at an immigration detention facility, or if you’re an attorney or advocate with a client experiencing discrimination, we can help!

IDAP Staff

Liz Jordan, Director of IDAP

Liz Jordan joined CREEC as our first CREEC Fellow in June 2017, proposing a project to challenge conditions in immigration detention facilities. After law school, she worked first as a Fellow with the Capital Appeals Project in Louisiana, where she represented capital defendants on appeal. She then represented immigrant children facing deportation in New York with The Door’s Legal Services Center. Prior to law school, Liz spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain studying human rights issues and several years as an international human rights advocate in New York. She received her BA from Yale College in 2006. She is admitted to practice in Louisiana and New York. Liz has a focus on trauma survivors and mental health and is fluent in Spanish, proficient in French, and defends herself in Portuguese. She has extensive experience working with people detained at the Aurora Detention Center.

Golnaz Fakhimi, Staff Attorney

Golnaz Fakhimi joined IDAP in 2022. She has worked with and for structurally marginalized immigrant clients and communities across a wide spectrum of contexts and strategies. Her experience and expertise encompass deportation defense, habeas corpus actions, civil rights actions, and technical assistance to movement leaders and partners. From 2019 to 2021, Golnaz co-taught the Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights clinic at the CUNY School of Law. Previously, she held positions as an Immigrants’ Rights Attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, a Staff Attorney at Appellate Advocates, an Immigration Staff Attorney with The Bronx Defenders, and a Staff Attorney with the International Justice Network. Representing clients at the trial and appellate levels across a variety of administrative and judicial fora, training the next generation of advocates, and educating the public through trainings and media advocacy, Golnaz roots her practice in immigrant- and community-led movements for change.  

Caroline Sprague, Paralegal

Caroline Sprague is the admin paralegal at CREEC. Caroline graduated from Brown University in December 2020 with a B.A. in American Studies, with a focus on the intersection of cultural arts and organizing. Before coming to CREEC, she held positions as an Education Rights Legal Intern at the Rhode Island Center for Justice, a Special Projects intern at Ars Nova in Manhattan, and a Senior Counselor for refugee students at Camp RYSE (Refugee Youth Solidarity through Education).  

Caroline assists as a paralegal on the lawsuit Fraihat v. ICE and is lead paralegal on E.A.R.R. v. DHS. In Fraihat, Caroline’s responsibilities include staffing the informational help line for subclass members (detained people with risk factors for severe COVID-19), attorney support, and research to support case development. In E.A.R.R. Caroline provides clerical support to attorneys (including co-counsel), including record keeping and research; and facilitates CREEC’s communications and outreach strategy for the case. Across IDAP, she helps to onboard and train new staff (i.e. summer externs and volunteers) and is involved in the long-term strategy and development of IDAP as a project.  

Selected Casework

E.A.R.R. v. DHS

CREEC and our partners at the Texas Civil Rights Project and Orrick, Herrington & Suttcliffe LLP filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of asylum seekers with disabilities and their families challenging the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) policy that has forced them to await their immigration proceedings in Mexico, instead of being processed into the United States.

Amicus Brief to Board of Immigration Appeals

In April 2021, CREEC and partners filed a brief of amici curiae (“friend of the court”) in support of Everod Reid, an individual with mental health disabilities who was not provided the necessary accommodations to fully participate in his immigration proceedings.

Fraihat v. ICE

In August 2019, CREEC and co-counsel filed a class-action lawsuit against Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security to fight discrimination against immigrants with disabilities. Case: Fraihat v. ICE.

Teneng v. Trump

In August 2018, CREEC, along with The American Civil Liberties Union, and Prison Law Office, filed a class-action lawsuit against President Trump and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for violating the constitutional rights of immigrants detained at FCI Victorville, a federal prison in Victorville, California. Click here to read the full Victorville case page. Read the full case.

Outdoor access at Etowah County Detention Center

In March 2018, CREEC, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, sent a letter to the Etowah County Commission and Etowah County Sheriff, urging officials to include outdoor recreation for immigration detainees in renovation plans for the Etowah County Detention Center (ECDC).

CREEC v. DHS

In February 2018, CREEC filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking the disclosure of documentation of detainee deaths, alleged abuse, and other substandard conditions of confinement at the Adelanto and Etowah immigration detention facilities. CREEC was represented pro bono by Thomas B. Kelley and Amber R. Gonzales of Ballard Spahr LLP. CREEC prevailed as Plaintiffs in 2021. Click here to read the full FOIA case page.

Selected Presentations and Articles

Ableism and its Impact on Immigration, Detention, and Other Border Issues 

February 2022 – Elizabeth Jordan presented on a panel as part of the Getting Radical in the South (GRITS) Conference.

Public Comment to DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL)

On August 20, 2021, CREEC submitted a public comment to DHS highlighting how the process of submitting medical and disability complaints to CRCL is not accessible to detained people. Read more about these issues, and our recommendations, here.

Recommendations to the Biden-Harris Administration on Immigrants with Disabilities

January 2021 – IDAP issued a series of policy recommendations to the incoming Biden-Harris administration. Read the recommendations here.

Locked Up in Lockdown: new challenges for those incarcerated and detained during the pandemic

October 8, 2020 – IDAP presented as part of a virtual conversation with state and national experts presented by Rutgers Center on Criminal Justice, Youth Rights, and Race, Rutgers Immigrant Rights Clinic, and Rutgers Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic.

Migrating as an LGBTQ Person: The Journey From Remain in Mexico to Asylum Proceedings

January 2020- IDAP presented on a panel, “Migrating as an LGBTQ Person: The Journey From Remain in Mexico to Asylum Proceedings,” at the Denver University Civil Rights Summit

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

October 2019 – “Civil Rights Groups Charge that ICE Disregards Immigrants’ Medical, Mental Health Needs and Ignores Discrimination Against Immigrants with Disabilities,” published in Civil Rights Insider, Fall 2019 edition, pg 4.

New Frontiers in Detention Litigation

October 17, 2019 – IDAP presented about CREEC’s work on Fraihat v ICE and disability rights work for incarcerated immigrants in the session titled, “New Frontiers in Detention Litigation” at the National Immigration Project’s annual membership meeting in Durham, NC.

Current Disability Rights for Immigrants: Legislative and Regulatory Landscape

September 25-26, 2019 – IDAP participated in two panels: “Current Disability Rights for Immigrants: Legislative and Regulatory Landscape” and “Spotlight: Mental Health and Immigration” at the Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Summit 2019 in Chicago, IL.

Spotlight: Mental Health and Immigration

September 25-26, 2019 – IDAP participated in two panels: “Current Disability Rights for Immigrants: Legislative and Regulatory Landscape” and “Spotlight: Mental Health and Immigration” at the Chicagoland Immigration and Disability Summit 2019 in Chicago, IL.

Fraihat v. ICE Press Conference

August 19, 2019 – We spoke at the Fraihat v. ICE Press Conference in August, demanding accountability from ICE for the treatment of detainees.

Colorado Challenges Immigration Detention

October 2018 – CREEC spoke to law students at Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver at the “Colorado Challenges Immigration Detention” part of the DU Crimmigration Law & Policy Event Series.

Detention Watch Network’s 12th National Member Conference

May 2018 – CREEC participated in the Detention Watch Network’s 12th National Member Conference.

IDAP Resources

Rights of Detained Immigrants with Disabilities Fact Sheet. To get in contact with the IDAP team, please contact: idap@creeclaw.org