The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon claims in a letter that 123 immigrants being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are being denied due process.
“Their detention in a federal prison is unjust, the forcible separation from their children is immoral, and their isolation from counsel and community is unfair,” officials from ACLU of Oregon and Innovation Law Lab wrote in a letter sent to ICE on Friday.
The ACLU and lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association Oregon Chapter released a letter to ICE on Friday condemning ICE’s alleged failure to provide fair access to an attorney.
Lawyers from Innovation Law Lab and the American Immigration Lawyers Association Oregon Chapter sent a letter last week to the Sheridan prison warden volunteering pro bono lawyers for those detained, according to an ACLU press release.
Some lawyers did meet with detainees on Thursday, but were not given access on Friday or through the weekend, according to the release.
Mat Dos Santos, legal director of the ACLU of Oregon, said in the release that it could take weeks to complete initial assessments with attorneys because the federal prison only has four meeting rooms and limited visiting hours, adding that calls to lawyers aren’t allowed, and the prison’s video teleconferencing system is broken.
The letter demands, in part, that ICE provide Sheridan detainees with access to legal counsel and an immigration law library, stop separating families seeking asylum, cease deportations and official interviews until legal visitations take place, and ensure immigration cases be heard in the Portland Immigration Court.
“There should be no deportations until all 123 men have meaningful access to lawyers,” Dos Santos said in the press release.
On June 7, U.S. immigration authorities confirmed that 1,600 people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border and designated for expedited deportation would be transferred to federal prison across five states, including Oregon.
In addition to Sheridan, the detainees were spread out through prisons in Victorville, California; SeaTac, Washington; La Tuna, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona.
The detainees being held in Oregon are from countries including China, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan and Ukraine, according to the ACLU, which claimed that many of the detainees previously applied for asylum at points of entry along the southern U.S. border.
Some of the men were also separated from their families during the detention process and are lacking current information on their families, the report read.
The ACLU said a vigil in support of the immigrants housed at Sheridan is planned for 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Sheridan Fishing Pond South Side Park.
“The current administration has abandoned the American promise carved into the Statue of Liberty,” the letter argues. “Instead of welcoming the tired, poor, huddled masses, ICE is using the lives of refugees and asylum seekers to send a chilling message to the world: You are not welcome and, if you dare come, you will be punished.”
ICE representatives were not immediately available for comment.
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