ACLU suing NELA detention center for violating immigration laws

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 2:47 PM CDT
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FERRIDAY, La. (KNOE) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says they are suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in multiple detention facilities from various states, including one in Ferriday.

The lawsuit filed Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, against ICE states the agency unlawfully prevented attorneys from communicating with immigrants who have been detained. The detention centers included in the lawsuit are the Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Az.; the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami; the Laredo Processing Center in Laredo, Tx.; and the River Correctional Center in Ferriday.

The ACLU says attorneys have had to face unnecessary challenges to communicating with detained immigrants in these detention centers, which makes representation difficult and, occasionally, impossible.

“The right to a lawyer should be the minimum level of fairness that someone gets when the government puts them in jail,” says Homero Lopez, Jr., legal director at Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA). “However, ICE attempts to remove even that minimal semblance of fairness by constantly placing barriers that limit one’s access to their attorney.”

Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, says having an attorney can be crucial to an immigrant’s defense.

“Access to counsel can be a matter of life or death for immigrants detained by ICE,” says Cho. “When people can’t communicate with their attorneys, they may lose their case -- an outcome that ultimately affects whether or not they will be permanently separated from their loved ones or sent back to dangerous conditions from which they fled. It’s past time ICE followed the law and their own policies.”

The complaint is filed by ACLU; the American Immigration Council; the ACLU of Arizona, D.C., Florida, and Texas; Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP; and Millbank LLP on behalf of non-profit legal service organizations. These organizations are the Americans for Immigrant Justice, Florence Immigrant, and Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), the Immigration Justice Campaign for the American Immigration Council, ISLA, and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

The complaint can be found on ACLU’s website,