Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being sued by a number of legal aid organizations for unjustly excluding lawyers from consulting with imprisoned immigrants at four detention centers in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Arizona, evidently not providing these individuals with fair access to legal services. According to the lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and Customs Enforcement, attorneys claim that their clients are severely limited to the resources that they should possess access to. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that at ICE detention facilities, attorneys are denied access to private and individual visitation rooms where they can have nonpublic conversations with their immigrant clients. Furthermore, the limitations on telephone access and onerous scheduling constraints are also being addressed in the lawsuit, such as ICE’s phone access fees costing $20 for a 25-minute conversation, which is an absurd amount of money.
According to Homero López Jr., the ISLA’s legal director, the right to a counsel should be the least degree of fairness that someone obtains when the government incarcerates them or puts them in a detention facility. However, ICE is creating obstacles that restrict a person’s access to counsel in an effort to eliminate even that modest pretense of justice.
Following detention, ICE gives them a list of free legal aid options, including the American Bar Association information line. According to the lawsuit, there is no publicly accessible information at River Correctional Center that would allow attorneys to schedule virtual visits with clients. In addition to asking for fair lawyers’ fees and expenses and any other remedies the court deems appropriate and proper, the plaintiffs requested that the court direct ICE to address the problems identified in the case.