Today marks a crucial legal victory for Innovation Law Lab, as Judge Michael H. Simon granted our motion for a preliminary injunction, ensuring our clients detained in Sheridan continue to have access to legal counsel.

At the time of today’s hearing, 74 out of the 80 clients represented by the Innovation Law Lab had received positive determinations in their credible fear interviews. One client opted to forego his interview and return to his country of origin. Five decisions, for interviews that occured late last week, had yet to be issued.

The judge’s initial temporary restraining order undoubtedly had an effect on the efficacy of the credible fear process. Prior to his June 25 order, Innovation Law Lab attorneys, staff, and volunteers had been turned away from the facility numerous times, despite attempts to schedule visits with Bureau of Prisons and Immigration & Customs Enforcement staff ahead of time.

Once the court mandated access, the Innovation Law Lab quickly mobilized to provide “Know Your Rights” presentations to the majority of those detained, conduct over 100 screening interviews, hold over 150 additional one-on-one meetings, and enter into pro bono representation agreements with 80 individuals.

As the order expired this month, the Innovation Law Lab and our counsel, the ACLU of Oregon and Stoll Berne, made the decision to move forward in seeking a preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction assures that our attorneys and volunteers will continue to have regular access to meet with our clients in Sheridan, and assure that clients are not transferred to other facilities without our prior consent.

While the credible fear interview positive determinations mark a key step forward in our clients’  cases, there is still more work for attorneys, interpreters, and legal assistants to do. Ultimately, this preliminary injunction will allow us to move forward unimpeded with the important work of securing release for the immigrants being detained in Sheridan.