The topic of immigration law is already complicated enough before adding in shortages and limited contact or access. When immigrants arrive in the United States and seek asylum, officials often direct them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities while the courts process their case.
Thanks to unnecessary barriers, poor locations and an overwhelming number of cases, many immigrants fail to get the legal help they need.
Contacting lawyers in detention
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, detained immigrants are 10 times more likely to win their cases when they have appropriate counsel. Unfortunately, over 70% of detained people faced the courts without a lawyer.
Some of this results from a number of factors. Many ICE facilities operate in geographically isolated locations that keep detainees far from immigration attorneys. Attorneys willing to travel the necessary distance find arranging for a meeting difficult. Reports claim that some facilities had no available phone slots out past two weeks. Some facilities kept those phone calls limited to less than 20 minutes.
Federal oversight and lawsuits aim to force ICE to improve this chokepoint in the immigration system, but it is clear there is more to do.
Getting the necessary representation
People in a detention center or who have family in a detention center currently have a lot on their plate. While civil rights organizations work to iron out the kinks in the system, it is up to individuals and families to get the support they need during the immigration process. Despite the hurdles, people have rights in immigration court and throughout their immigration case.