L.A. Judge to Hear Arguments in ACLU's Detained Immigrants Lawsuit


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A federal judge in Los Angeles is expected to hear arguments today in the ACLU's emergency lawsuit calling for an end to what it describes as the “unconstitutional denial” of attorney access to immigrants being detained by the Trump administration at a prison complex in the High Desert.

According to the complaint, hundreds of immigrants were moved from detention facilities to the medium security federal prison in Victorville, which is about 60 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

The detainees are being held “incommunicado," the nonprofit organization says in its complaint, filed June 19 in federal court in Los Angeles.

In a victory over the government's “zero tolerance” detention policy, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II on Thursday approved a temporary restraining order compelling officials to give the detainees access to legal help.

In his ruling, Wright wrote that the detainees “will suffer irreparable harm” if blocked from consulting with attorneys.

Wright also ordered that immigration proceedings, including deportations, be halted until detainees had an opportunity to consult with attorneys or attend a “know your rights” training session by the Immigrant Defenders Law Center group that provides free legal advice to immigrants in Southern California.

At today's hearing, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California are expected to ask Wright to extend the restraining order.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the nonprofit Immigrant Defenders Law Center, which provides free legal counsel to non-citizens.

As part of his order, the judge specifically said that attorney Gabriela Lopez must be permitted to meet with her client, detainee Gustavo Rodriguez Castillo, by phone or in person. Before the emergency lawsuit was filed, she was not permitted any communication with Castillo.

Wright also ordered that immigration attorneys be permitted to conduct “know your rights” training at the Victorville prison by July 9.

The emergency lawsuit -- filed against officials of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and others -- argues that the actions of the Trump administration in holding detainees without access to lawyers violates the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause, the First Amendment, federal detention standards, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Legal assistance is especially essential for non-citizens trying to navigate the notoriously complicated immigration laws and regulations that are commonly considered second only to the tax code in complexity, the suit argued.

The legal help is particularly critical for asylum seekers who face deportation to a country where they might be persecuted, tortured or killed, the ACLU said.

President Donald Trump unleashed an aggressive attack Sunday on unauthorized immigrants and the judicial system that handles them, saying that those who cross into the United States illegally should be sent back immediately without due process or an appearance before a judge.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Tump tweeted while on the way to his golf course in Virginia, according to the New York Times. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came.”


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