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Immigration detention centers make phone calls difficult

A class action lawsuit filed by the Northern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union may result in some change to immigration detention facilities. A former detainee filed the complaint against Immigration and Customs Enforcement after he was denied the ability to make phone calls and receive messages while he was being held in a California jail where ICE has rented facilities.

The main plaintiff in the case is a Jamaican man who moved to the United States at the age of 10. As an adult, the man served in the U.S. Air Force and married a U.S. citizen. After he was detained by ICE, the man found that it was extremely difficult to obtain the legal documents that he needed to fight his impending deportation. The difficulty was caused by limited access to a telephone and the inability to leave messages or receive messages.

Calls going out from the detention facility where the man was being held were automatically dropped after 15 minutes. Just getting a call started was difficult as the detention center's phone system only allowed collect calls. If the man reached a voicemail or an automatic phone system, his call would drop automatically. Eventually, the man was able to reach a nonprofit organization that provided him with legal representation from an attorney and got him out of the detention facility.

It can be very difficult for people to represent themselves in a deportation proceeding, especially when the person has already been detained. Contacting an immigration attorney may be the best way to begin the process of trying to obtain a release.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber