Lawyers trying to meet with immigrants held in Oregon prison
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Immigrants from Latin America transferred to a federal prison in Oregon have been denied access to lawyers, one of the attorneys seeking to represent them said Thursday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement hasn’t given assurances that the immigrants will be able to meet with attorneys before they’re deported, attorney Stephen Manning told The Associated Press.
“In spite of an organized pro bono effort where we’ve offered to provide free attorneys for everyone, ICE has not provided access,” the Portland attorney said.
Authorities say the immigrants entered the United States illegally.
Carissa Cutrell, a spokeswoman for ICE, said it is working to ensure that detainees have appropriate access to lawyers.
“As standard procedure, ICE detainees have access to visitors and immigration attorneys, in accordance with (U.S. Bureau of Prisons) standards,” Cutrell said in an email.
The Bureau of Prisons denied an AP request to visit the medium security facility in Sheridan to see what conditions the immigrants are being held in.
Democratic members of Oregon’s congressional delegation plan to visit the prison soon. Sen. Jeff Merkley, one of those planning to visit, has been particularly critical of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that has seen immigrants separated from their children.
Around 120 immigrants from Mexico and Central America are reportedly being held at the prison, located 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Salem, the state capital. The administration is sending more than 1,600 immigrants — including some parents whose children were taken away from them by U.S. officials — to federal prisons because of lack of space in other jails.
Cutrell said ICE is committed to connecting family members as quickly as possible after separation so that parents know where their children are and have regular communication with them “in line with ICE policies and detention standards.”
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