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Immigrants Left Without Lawyers After ICE Transfers

This summary about how immigration lawyers meet the challenges of ICE transfers was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Immigrants are showing up for their immigration court dates alone and unsure of what to say after Immigration and Customs Enforcement transfers them to new jails without notifying their lawyers.

ICE has a major role to play in the problem, but has declined advocates’ suggested route to resolving the issue. 

Last year, after several advocates and state legislators pushed for county jails to stop holding detained immigrants for ICE, the agency started to transfer the immigrants to facilities in other states.

In today’s story, Documented’s immigration enforcement reporter, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio uncovers how those detention transfers are now separating immigrants from legal representation. 

A lot is at stake for immigrants, especially without a lawyer: Legal representation is key to an immigration case, as the U.S. immigration system is complex and hard to navigate, especially for migrants who may not speak English. But in New Jersey, ICE is increasingly transferring detained migrants without notifying the legal providers the state has funded to represent them. 

The chief attorney for the Immigration Representation Project at Legal Services of New Jersey — one of the four groups that receives money from the state to provide legal services to those facing deportation, detention, or both — said the organization has asked ICE to centralize information regarding where these immigrants are sent. ICE declined.

ICE indicated why in a response to Sen. Cory Booker’s inquiry, which our reporter, Guilia, details in today’s story

She also spoke to 36-year-old Jose Martin Hercules Aleman in a phone interview from detention. He detailed his experience showing up to immigration court alone twice, and how many others are struggling to find attorneys. He says when they call the numbers of immigration lawyers that ICE gives them, they get no response.

Legal providers are meanwhile searching for immigrants to represent: Given ICE’s insistence on not providing an official notification system, legal providers are looking for alternative ways to find detained immigrants to represent. 

Often, legal providers can find out about individuals who are in criminal custody and might be released, only to be picked up by ICE, by getting in touch with the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender.

Still, attorneys worry that immigrants might not know about available legal representation until it is too late.

Read the full report exclusively on Documented


New York

Gang members charged with violent takeover of NY’s fire mitigation industry: Officials allege that the nine defendants used violence to assert control over the fire mitigation industry and the filing of false insurance claims. — Insurance Journal

Around the U.S. 

Undocumented immigrants fear deportation after Roe reversal: Undocumented women say they fear getting deported or detained if they cross state borders to receive abortion. — Reuters

Read the stories of some of the 53 migrants who died in a truck in Texas: The stories describe how many of the migrants made their way to the U.S. after facing economic difficulties driven by Covid-19. — BBC

After 27 years, Oregon immigrant civil rights group dissolves: Reasons for Causa’s shutdown include trouble with fundraising, unprecedented turnover in staff and leadership, and the inability to finalize a contract with an employee union. — AP News

Immigration bills finalized in North Carolina: Legislators approved a measure that would direct local sheriffs to assist ICE agents in picking up undocumented inmates, which Gov. Roy Cooper (D) will likely veto.  — AP News

Children of immigrants surpass earnings of children of US-born parents: A new book details how children of immigrants tend to achieve more economic success in adulthood when compared to children of U.S.-born parents with similar income levels. — Bloomberg

Private detention center in California near empty despite being fully funded: The U.S. government pays for at least 1,455 beds a day at Adelanto, but so far this fiscal year the facility has had an average daily population of 49 detainees. — AP News

Washington D.C.

DHS Secretary says Congress must pass new immigration laws: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called for Congress to pass legislation to fix the immigration system as the U.S. works with allies in the Americas for solutions. — ABC News

House passes bill to provide Dreamers a path to citizenship: It’s unclear if there is broad enough Republican support for the bill to pass the Senate. — Spectrum News NY 1

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