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Ending Sheridan, Report from the Sheridan Pro Bono Project

Ending Sheridan: Rise of a Rights Architecture, a report by Innovation Law Lab, describes the work in Oregon that resulted in a 100% client approval rate and the closing of the use of a prison for immigration detention.

One year ago, a broad effort to end the cruel and clandestine incarceration of immigrant men seeking asylum at the Sheridan federal detention center launched.

The report describes:

  • Massive Collaborative Representation: what it is and how it can be operationalized at specific sites of resistance;
  • the Big Immigration Law theory;
  • Oregon’s Rights Architecture and how innovation is fostered within the architecture.

The Sheridan Pro Bono project used a new mode of representation called Massive Collaborative Representation to intentionally exert power on the deportation system so that it might more fairly and more consistently adhere to the laws of the United States. The Sheridan Pro Bono Project relied on Oregon’s Rights Architecture to situate the massive collaborative representation in order to rapidly implement and scale the response

Infographic on case outcomes

The Sheridan Pro Bono Project won 100% of the credible fear claims and 97% of the release claims—unheard-of client outcomes in traditional representational models. Although the legal representation was centralized at Innovation Law Lab, its MCR approach to representation was built on the work of a large coalition of organizations, including Unidos Bridging CommunityACLU of Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Interfaith movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), Rural Organizing Project (ROP), Causa, ICE Out of Sheridan, Progressive Yamhill and many other organizations who regularly work together through Oregon Ready.


Detainer Litigation and Discovery: ICE Records Discoverable

Innovation Law Lab, together with attorneys from Oregon Law Center, recently obtained a victory for the taxpayers in Wasco County who seek to an end of the ICE contract and other immigration enforcement activity prohibited by state law in their four-county jail. The jail, NORCOR, objected for months to delivering records demonstrating local law enforcement assistance with federal immigration enforcement. Citing 8 C.F.R. § 236.6, NORCOR made a blanket refusal to turn over documents, sought to claw back those it had already turned over, and refused to answer questions in depositions about the material.

The regulation, 8 C.F.R. § 236.6, prohibits public disclosure of the names and other identifying information of individuals held in detention by ICE. Plaintiffs contend that there is a significant difference between public disclosure, such a FOIA request or similar public records request, and documents sought in a lawsuit. The Wasco County Court agreed and ordered NORCOR to produce the documents, concluding “[t[hat regulation does not apply to requests for discovery in litigation.”

The Court also confirmed that where a local law enforcement agency or other party holds documents sent to it by a government agency, the Touhy regulations do not apply.  The Court reasoned that because NORCOR “is not a federal agency or a current or former federal employee,” the Plaintiffs may obtain documents directly from NORCOR.

Innovation Law Lab applauds our clients in demanding transparency and accountability at NORCOR, and hopes this ruling assists other jurisdictions in understanding the correct scope of 8 C.F.R. § 236.6.

A copy of the ruling can be found here.

Sheridan: When a Community Responds

by Stephen W Manning, Executive Director at the Innovation Law Lab and Mat Dos Santos, Legal Director at the ACLU of Oregon

In late May 2018, the Trump Administration imprisoned Karandeep Singh, and hundreds other men like him, because he had fled to the United States to seek asylum. The administration’s goal, as President Donald Trump stated, was to “immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases bring them back from where they came.”

Mass imprisonment and rapid deportation are supposed to be the new norm because, according to the president, immigrants “are animals.” The Trump Administration is actualizing its immoral and unlawful plan to deport immigrant communities of color en masse. Immigrants with legitmate asylum claims are being deported faster and in larger numbers than we’ve seen before.

Like more than 120 other asylum seekers, the administration locked Karandeep in a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, denied him access to lawyers – and therefore the law – and then was going to immediately deport him in spite of his legitimate claim to asylum. That was supposed to be it.

But, exactly 90 days after he was thrown in prison, Karandeep was freed from his cell in Sheridan to fight his asylum claim outside the electrified confinement of immigrant detention.

How did Karandeep get out of Sheridan?

Oregonians came together to provide necessary support for these asylum seekers in the best ways we each know how. We came together in the courts, on the streets, in the headlines, in our community, fighting for these men on both sides of Sheridan’s walls.

Grassroots organizations working within the Rights Architecture in Oregon deployed their best strategies, with their best hearts, and their clearest thinking to collectively defend Karandeep and all the men immorally imprisoned in Sheridan in order to build sustainable, inclusionary pathways for Oregon and everywhere.

 

Unidos Bridging Community, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) and others built solidarity outside the detention center with everyone inside the detention center through vigils, marches, and and public manifestations of connection, support, and hope. These actions kept what was happening in Sheridan in the headlines and in public consciousness, letting the men know the community supports them and letting the government know that their actions don’t align with Oregon’s values.

 

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Causa, and others activated a massive network of volunteers to engage in the challenging and vital work of defending everyone in detention so that no one was forgotten.

The ACLU of Oregon – in collaboration with attorneys from Stoll Berne – as well as the Federal Public Defender of Oregon broke open the Trump Administration’s attempt to isolate Karandeep and others from the law by fighting the government in federal court. The successful lawsuit finally paved the way for the asylum seekers to have access to attorneys from the Innovation Law Lab.

 

APANO, ROP, Unidos, and the newly-formed ICE out of Sheridan group established a special post-detention respite network to provide a welcoming einvironment and transportation from the doors of the detention center to a safe, sheltered, dignified space, allowing the men to recover from detention and build plans for onward travel to their family and sponsors. This crucial support network engaged several religious organizations, like the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple to St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, and dozens of community members.

 

And Oregon Ready, a statewide coalition of community organizations, collectivized attention on developing a lasting policy resolution to end asylum-seeker incarceration at federal prisons.

 

Karandeep’s journey is only partially complete. And many more immigrants of color are still confined within Sheridan and other facilites around the country. Yet when Karandeep walked out of Sheridan on August 21, he won an important victory in the long journey to protect the rule of law.

Belong: A Comprehensive Report on Inclusion & ORS 181A in Oregon

Today, the Innovation Law Lab released a comprehensive report on inclusion and Oregon’s statute, ORS 181A.

From its inception as a state, Oregon has struggled with exclusionary policies against immigrants and communities of color. In 1977, the unlawful and discriminatory interrogation of long-time Oregon resident Delmiro Trevino led to a lawsuit and culminated in the legislation known today as ORS 181A.820. Though overlooked and underenforced for many years, this “sanctuary” statute is an important and powerful tool in the effort to build a more inclusive Oregon by combating unlawful and discriminatory practices through the disentanglement of state and local police from federal immigration enforcement.

As President Trump’s administration advances a corrosive and divisive deportation policy, ORS 181A.820 is a crucial component of Oregon’s efforts to advance racial and cultural inclusion.

  • By building trust across communities, ORS 181A .820 helps local law enforcement keep Oregon safe . Law enforcement agencies in Oregon and across the country support disentan- glement policies because they empower state and local police to focus their limited resources on key public safety objectives: preventing, investigating, and punishing crime. Disentangle- ment policies also improve public safety and effective policing by building trust and encourag- ing crime reporting at a community level.
  • By protecting diverse communities from rights violations, ORS 181A .820 strengthens the rule of law. Oregon’s disentanglement policy is grounded in state powers enshrined by the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Disentanglement strengthens the rule of law by preventing the illegal and selective administration of federal civil immigration law by state and local officials untrained in immigration proceedings. This clear separation of roles reduces the risk of racial discrimination, profiling, harassment, and other rights violations by Oregon law enforcement agencies. It also promotes the uniform application of immigration law and protects Oregon localities from liability.
  • By furthering inclusion, ORS 181A .820 improves Oregonians’ collective prosperity . Powerful empirical evidence shows that disentanglement policies not only improve community safety and the rule of law but also enhance civic engagement and raise the level of collective prosperity. These benefits are particularly strong in Oregon, where immigrants are an integral part of the state’s social fabric, history, and economy.

In contrast to the collective benefits of disentanglement, the Trump administration’s racialized agenda of immigration detention and deportation threatens to divide and destabilize Oregon communities. Looking ahead, it is critical that Oregon acts to fortify and expand its inclusionary practices and policies.

Read the report here.

FCI Sheridan Update June 18 | What Happened & What’s Next

What happened today?

Today, we sent a team of pro bono lawyers to FCI Sheridan. And once again ICE denied our entire team of pro bono lawyers access to the asylum-seeking men they have hidden inside a federal penitentiary.

Why is this happening?

The Trump Administration has chosen to use the immense weapon of incarceration and family separation to punish and terrorize immigrants, particularly immigrants from communities of color. The law never required that these men be detained; the law never required that these families be separated; and the law certainly never required — in fact, it is rather unprecedented — that these men be imprisoned in a federal penitentiary.

But in the deportation process, when people are detained and hidden deportations come fast and easy. Keep them hidden. Keep them isolated. If no one cares, then it is as if it never happened at all. Right?

And that’s the mistake the Trump Administration made.

They weren’t expecting hundreds of Oregonians to step up and say: we are in this to win it. Unique in the United States, Oregonians–hundreds of you– have promised to defend these men in the courts, their families, the law of asylum — and by that simple Constitutional fact of due process and fairness, you are defending the rule of law and democracy.

What’s next & what can you do now?

  • Be ready. As soon as we open access–and we will–things will happen very very fast and you will need to be available. We cannot say when yet.
  • Learn about asylum. We’ve developed an online training curriculum to show you the basics.
  • Learn why the role of counsel in rapid removals is so important.

Be well & more soon,

The Sheridan Pro Bono Project

Chanpone Sinlapasai, Eileen Sterlock, Stephen Manning, Caroline van der Harten, Luis Garcia

FCI Sheridan Update, What’s Next, How to Get Involved

Thank you for your interest and willingness to defend democracy, end family separation & support the pro bono legal effort at FCI Sheridan.

What happened?

As you know, the Trump Administration has launched an assault on immigrants, particularly immigrants from communities of color. The immigration authorities are physically tearing children from parents, prosecuting asylum-seekers, and incarcerating mothers, fathers, and children–separately.  Here at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, the Trump Administration has incarcerated more than one hundred men who are seeking asylum

Nearly 300 people have volunteered to defend the law of asylum by supporting the legal defense work at FCI Sheridan. Thanks to your support, in just a few days:

 

  • We’ve opened a base camp (otherwise known as a very modest law office) in a donated space in the lovely rural town of Sheridan just minutes from FCI. The base camp will serve as hub of support & training for pro bono lawyers & advocates.
  • We have created a data system, legal templates, and are arranging for interpretation services. We are collecting asylum country reports.
  • We’ve established a toll-free hotline for the detained men and their families.
  • We’ve established an email for lawyers, advocates, and press to contact the on-the-ground team (otg-sheridan@innovationlawlab.org).
  • We’ve connected with our colleagues around the country to help piece families back together and collectively defend the law of asylum.
  • We’ve established a web page for up-to-date reports.
  • We’ve created a volunteer registration form.
  • We are working collaboratively with our colleagues at the Innovation Law Lab, Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Oregon Ready, and members across the state including faith communities and others.

What’s the strategy?

  • The ability of the detained men to access counsel is still very compromised (you can read our demand letters here and here).
  • We are working on creating better, more meaningful access that complies with the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States so that every individual experiences a fair process that is free from bias.

What happens next?

  • If you registered to be a volunteer, you will receive a few more emails about organizational things. If you haven’t registered, please do. There is a lot of work to be done.
  • We will soon have a scheduling system in place to train and deploy volunteers. We are working non-stop to get ready. To defend democracy and the rule of law means all-hands-on-deck and we are really glad you are on the team!
  • On Monday, June 18 at 5.30pm, you should be in Sheridan for a vigil planned by local advocacy and faith-based organizations. Details can be found here.

Be well & more soon,

The Sheridan Pro Bono Project

Chanpone Sinlapasai, Eileen Sterlock, Stephen Manning, Caroline van der Harten, Luis Garcia

Building the Resistance: Innovation Law Lab Impact Report

We are thrilled to share our latest report with you. “Building the Resistance: Innovation Law Lab Impact Report” is now available online.

The mass incarceration and deportation of immigrant communities of color has long been underway in the United States. With the election of President Donald Trump, what few safeguards existed for immigrants and refugees are now under attack. The need for scalable immigrant representation models and sites of resistance is greater than ever before.

Our impact report captures the collaborative work we have done over the past 18 months. Some of the highlights include:

  • Established four Centers of Excellence across the country, which provide pro bono representation for families formerly held in family detention centers
  • Launched BorderX, our model to scale representation of adult immigrants in detention
  • Trained 296 attorneys
  • Placed over 70 pro bono asylum cases affecting over 150 people
  • Been recognized by Financial Times as one of the most innovative legal organizations in North America

Read the report

Rethinking Parties in 5.1 – What’s New?

In LL 5.1, Parties got a lot of love. In fact, they got a whole new interface and data engine called Interview. Now, unlike before, Parties can easily link multiple cases within a record.

Before, parties were static entries–associated only with a single case within a single record. Each time a user created a new case, all the party information needed to be re-entered. This was inefficient and ineffective.

It also prevented robust data collection because it was not dynamic and the data would not travel with the party as his or her case developed over time. LL 5.0 was built on the fly to accommodate an urgent need for the pro bono defense teams for the Artesia Pro Bono Project.

In LL 5.1, all Parties are managed through Interview. In Interview strategic information about the client (history, claim, story, family; all information that will help to build their case) is recorded.  The Interview engine is gleaming machine that is built to do even more. Under-the-hood, it’s engine is designed to support our next generation legal analysis modules to help you spot troublesome admissibility, eligibility, and long term relief.

Interview requires that each Party have a first name, last name, date of birth, and gender. This allows for the engine to identify and link parties to the appropriate case.

Transition tip: For parties entered in 5.0, you will be required to add the required information the first time you seek to update that record.

You create a new record by starting a new interview.

There are 5 required fields to create a new record:  the primary party’s first and last name, the date the record is opened, the assigned attorney, and the case type.  After this information is entered the “create” button activates.  Click Create. Creating a new record will also automatically create a new case.  (The primary party will be linked to the record and the case.)

Pro tip: Leave the Record ID blank. LawLab will auto-assign a unique Record ID number that you can use for LawLab, the physical file, and all of your data systems. The number begins with the year and followed with a 4 digit sequential number, e.g., 20170045 (means the 45th record created in 2017).  Once a Record ID is assigned, it cannot be changed. It is a permanent, unique identifier.

That’s it. You can now immediately switch to Docket to begin adding additional case information, upload documents, enter case notes, set reminders or use Interview to update party information and add additional parties.

Pro tip: We like to quickly add the key Personal Details at this point: the date of birth, country of birth, relationship, language and the A# if available. LawLab won’t require you to do before switching to the Docket (and adding case information), but it is a best practice and helps speed up searches later.

 

Contact Migration in 5.1.0

A big improvement with 5.1.0 is the ability to create a party and share that party information across all cases in a record. This feature allows the user to collect deeper, more substantive data. When there is a data mismatch between how a party was originally entered in LL 5.0 and now, LL 5.1 makes an assumption as to which party is the correct party to display in the Record Caption — we call this person the Contact Party (that is, who is the person you are most likely to contact for a case).

During the migration, if LL 5.1.0 was unable to find an existing party that matched the first and last names of the Contact Party, so the system created one to ensure that the contact information remained unchanged after the upgrade.  Mismatches happen due to a misspelling in the record contact information vs the party’s, omitted maternal name, maternal name in First Name field vs Last Name field, etc. If LL 5.1 created a Contact Party for the record, the docket will say:

Contact migration: Created new Party ‘NEW-PARTY-NAME’ from existing record details and it has been assigned as a Contact Party. Note that this Party will not have any Case Notes or history associated with it, and may simply be the result of a misspelling of the original Party’s name. Please confirm that the contact information for this Record is correct, you may select an alternate Contact Party by editing this Record. If you have any questions, please contact helpdesk@innovationlawlab.org

When this appears in your docket, you should confirm that LL 5.1 choice of Contact Party is the right one. If so, nothing more needs to be done. If not, then you can change the Contact Party by selecting Edit on the Record Caption.

Then select the appropriate Contact Party from the drop down list.

 

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