#AceNewsReport – June.21: According to the complaint, hundreds of immigrants were moved last week from detention facilities to the medium security federal prison in Victorville, which is in the High Desert about 60 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles: The detainees are being held “incommunicado,” according to the ACLU #AceNewsDesk reports
Denial of access to lawyers causes immigrant detainees “serious irreparable harm,” the nonprofit organization says in its complaint, which was filed in federal court in Los Angeles: The complaint also states that restricting legal counsel to those in need violates federal detention standards and the First Amendment, which guarantees detainees and prisoners the right to communicate with “the outside world.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the nonprofit Immigrant Defenders Law Center, which provides free legal counsel to non-citizens.
A news release from the ACLU said that attorneys with the center were denied entry into the Victorville prison, despite following proper entry protocol for clearance.
“All we are seeking is to provide free legal services to detained immigrants at Victorville on the same terms allowed at other immigration detention centers,” said Lindsay Toczylowksi, executive director of the center, which is also called Imm Def. “Legal assistance is essential for people facing our extraordinarily complicated immigration system.”
Toczylowksi was turned away from the Victorville prison on June 12 after attempting to determine the rules for visitation, the lawsuit states. She eventually left the prison feeling “intimidated by all of the security presence and threatened,” according to the complaint.
The ACLU reported that even attorneys who had existing professional relationships with detainees were cut off from their clients.
Imm Def attorney and plaintiff Gabriela Lopez has also allegedly been denied access to her client, Gustavo Rodriguez Castillo, who was forcibly relocated to the prison on June 14.
Castillo, an asylum-seeker from Venezuela, has not been able to speak to his attorney despite being found to have a “credible fear” of torture in his native country. He is also listed as a plaintiff in the complaint.
Lopez has repeatedly called the prison to speak with Castillo, but has been unable to get through.
Among those being sued are Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the warden of the Victorville facility, David Shinn.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials intend to incarcerate 1,000 detainees at the Victorville complex, the complaint stated. Last week, employees at the federal prison protested the move, saying the influx of detainees was creating unsafe conditions for workers.
Many of the detainees were subject to the administration’s zero-tolerance policies, which dramatically increased criminal prosecutions of those crossing the border illegally, forcing authorities to separate children from parents awaiting court dates.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to end the separation policy and keep families together while in detention.
#BREAKING: Hundreds of immigrants who were moved from immigration detention centers to a federal prison in Victorville, CA are being denied access to attorneys by the Trump administration. We’re suing. https://t.co/rN4YaJAEVw
— ACLU SoCal (@ACLU_SoCal) June 20, 2018
Immigrants Detained in Victorville Prison Are Being Illegally Denied Access to Lawyers, ACLU Says in Lawsuit https://t.co/GECZILwcKhpic.twitter.com/jYnMRAnUbC— June 21, 2018: Ace Newsroom Live https://t.me/SterlingPublishingPanel/184371
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