A hearing scheduled Monday in a civil rights group’s lawsuit calling for a permanent end to what it describes as the unconstitutional denial of attorney access to undocumented immigrants being detained by the Trump administration at a prison complex in the High Desert was postponed until next month.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed suit last week against officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, alleging that hundreds of immigrants held at a medium security federal prison in Victorville “will suffer irreparable harm” if blocked from consulting with attorneys.
The detainees are being held “incommunicado,’ the nonprofit organization says in its complaint, filed June 19 in federal court in Los Angeles.
However, in a victory over the government’s “zero tolerance” detention policy, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II last Thursday approved a temporary restraining order compelling officials to give the detainees access to legal help.
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 the hearing now scheduled for July 30, ACLU lawyers 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 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.
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,” Trump tweeted while on the way to his golf course in Virginia. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came.”
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