A note from Sheridan: “You were the ray of hope that entered the window of my cell. May God bless you and give you health. We care for your very much.”

Dear friends,

The Trump Administration hatched a plan to deport as many immigrants as fast as they could. Their plan involves building the apparatus of mass incarceration, creating vast shadows of stigma over the immigrant community, and eliminating courts. When the administration decided to incarcerate more than 120 asylum-seeking men in the Sheridan federal prison, they were implementing a plan to stigmatize, incarcerate, and then rapidly deport. It was a pre-ordained conclusion.

Well, that was until you stepped in.

A month ago, the ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Innovation Law Lab and our client, Luis Javier Sanchez Gonzalez, in order for the Law Lab to obtain access to a single node in the apparatus of mass incarceration, the federal detention center in Sheridan, Oregon. Last week, the federal court granted a preliminary injunction securing our continued access. The Law Lab promised to represent everyone who needed and wanted a lawyer. Everyone.

And that simple promise broke the rapid deportation system in place at Sheridan. Although everyone was supposed to have been deported by now, every person represented by the Law Lab’s pro bono teams on the merits has won their fear claim. Everyone. And now it is time to get them out of detention and back with their families where they belong.

Since late June, more than 100 volunteers have:

  • Completed 101 legal screenings
  • Conducted 202 legal meetings
  • Defended clients at 85 credible fear interviews
  • Initiated release applications for every client
  • All of this in 9 languages
  • And WON every single fear claim. Every claim.

These men are still inside Sheridan. People who stood up for their beliefs, even when it put them in harm’s way. People who fled persecution from places like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mauritania. People seeking refuge from violent political battles playing out in different places in the world.

Today the first applications for release were filed. You can continue to support our efforts by making a gift, signing up to be part of the post-detention respite network, and joining public actions hosted by local advocacy organizations.

Thank you to the volunteers who have showed up in Sheridan and given their all and to the community members who have joined in marches and vigils, assuring the voices from Sheridan are heard. And special thanks to our community organization partners: the ACLU of Oregon, AILA, APANO, Causa, IMIrJ, and Unidos Bridging Community.

The Trump Administration sent immigrants to Sheridan in an attempt to deport them, to shut them off from legal counsel and the outside world. But because of YOU we have been able to alter the course of mass deportation in Sheridan, Oregon.


The Innovation Law Lab Team