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Stuck in detention: For immigrants without lawyers, justice is hard to find

Natalie Yahr Wisconsin Center for Investigative JournalismMay 20, 2019

It was nearly three hours before sunrise on a frigid October morning when immigration attorney Aissa Olivarez climbed into her Honda CR-V and left her Madison apartment.

She drove an hour and 40 minutes to Elgin, Illinois, and got on the commuter train, arriving before 9 a.m. at the Chicago Immigration Court — the designated court for the roughly 300 people held in immigration detention in Wisconsin.

Olivarez travels to the Chicago court as often as a couple of times a week. She is one of just two immigration attorneys in Dane County who represent detained clients for free, part of a national pilot program that aims to provide free lawyers to immigrants.

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