The Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) has just released a study entitled "Isolated in Detention" that analyzes a detained immigrant's access to counsel.
Approximately 150 of the 300 immigration detention facilities were surveyed between August and December 2009. The findings of the report illustrate the systemic impediments in immigration detention that inhibit access to counsel.
The study found that across the board affordable legal services for immigrant detainees is grossly inadequate, there is a significant lack of access to counsel, a limited access to legal orientation programs, and most detention facilities have restrictive phone policies that prohibit detainees from freely communicating with counsel.
Not all immigration detention facilities are created equal. From my professional experience the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York is clean and professionally run. Attorneys have full access to their clients, and detainees have unfettered access to telephones to enable them to contact counsel. There are also free legal services available to detainees who qualify.
That being said, the detention facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey more closely resembles the Gulag, and is the poster child for all that is wrong with our immigration detention system. Unfortunately, the report reveals that the conditions in Elizabeth, New Jersey are the rule to the Buffalo, New York exception.
Click here to read the report.