ACLU Seeks Public Records Regarding Access to Critical Legal Resources in ICE Detention

March 30, 2023 10:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union submitted a public records request today, under the Freedom of Information Act, to obtain documents regarding the quality and availability of legal materials for people held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. Although ICE standards require facilities to ensure detained people have access to comprehensive legal materials, including an electronic law library, to protect their rights, detained people frequently complain of barriers to legal resources.

“Legal materials are critical for people in ICE custody, particularly those without counsel, as they can help determine whether or not they can successfully argue their cases and stay in the U.S. with their family and networks of care, or face deportation and separation from loved ones,” said Marisol Dominguez-Ruiz, Justice Catalyst Fellow at the ACLU National Prison Project. “It’s essential that we have a clearer picture of the quality and availability of these materials to ensure people’s due process rights are not being violated.”

ICE detains over 24,000 people on a daily basis nationwide. On average, only 14 percent of those detained have legal representation in their immigration proceedings. The ACLU has also documented severe and pervasive barriers to communication with counsel in ICE detention facilities across the country. In light of the significant number of detained people who lack representation and reliable communication with attorneys, coupled with the dearth of information currently available on the quality and accessibility of legal materials, the ACLU seeks all records on the issue dating from March 1, 2023, until completion of the records request.


The public records request is available here.



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