ACLU Seeks Court Order against ICE to Guarantee Detained Immigrants Access to Lawyers

(From Press Release) — The ACLU Foundation of Northern California went to court today to seek an injunction that would prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from blocking Pangea Legal Services and other legal service providers meaningful access to people swept up in ICE raids.

We are also asking a federal judge to prohibit ICE from processing people arrested in ICE raids until they are able to access counsel.

The ACLU has filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on behalf of our client Pangea Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants, particularly in the area of deportation defense.

We took this action after learning yesterday evening that local federal immigration officials stated they would not grant pro bono attorneys access to clients –and potential clients – who are arrested during raids ordered by President Trump, allegedly scheduled to begin Sunday.

ICE processing offices are closed on Sunday. Local immigration officials in San Francisco and Stockton are refusing requests from pro bono attorneys that they be given access to clients and potential clients on that day. They are also refusing to inform newly arrested noncitizens that free legal help is available.

“Everyone has a constitutional right to a lawyer. Denying that is part of ICE’s strategy for deporting as many people as quickly as possible – with absolutely no regard for their constitutional rights,” said Sean Riordan, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “We will use every tool at our disposal to protect community members from Trump’s deportation machine.”

Faced with this latest threat, the ACLU, along with other legal aid and immigrant rights groups, are fighting to ensure due process for those without lawful immigration status.

“Our attorneys have documented various instances where ICE has disregarded people’s right to an attorney by denying pro bono counsel access to ICE processing centers, and where unrepresented individuals have been misinformed into signing their own deportations,” said Etan Newman of Pangea Legal Services. “This is deeply concerning. Legal representation at ICE processing centers is a critical element in ensuring that individuals make informed decisions about their legal rights, and is often the difference between deportation and due process.”

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