Linklaters Represents Detainees at one of the Largest Immigrant Detention Centers in U.S.

A team of Linklaters partners and associates from the D.C. and NY office has teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) to provide representation to detained immigrants at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. Stewart is one of the largest and busiest immigrant detention facilities in the U.S. for people facing deportation.
 
Detained immigrants, particularly those held in remote locations, face the additional obstacle of accessing counsel from behind bars. The lack of appointed counsel can have a profound impact on immigrants’ ability to receive a fair hearing and those represented by counsel achieve substantially better outcomes in their removal cases at every stage. A 2016 study revealed only 14% of detained immigrants attended court hearing with counsel, the figure dropped to 10% for immigrants held in remote detention centers like Stewart in Lumpkin, Georgia. Data published in a 2018 SPLC report shows 93.8 % of detained immigrants at Stewart were deported or gave up on their cases and left the country, far exceeding the national average of 67.5%.
 
Partner Vijaya Palaniswamy helped create and coordinate the project. Partners Amy Edgy, Doug Davison, senior associate Sean Solomon and associate Mimi Powell spent a week on-site in Lumpkin doing intake interviews, drafting pleadings and representing detainees in bond hearings. Unlike criminal defendants, non-U.S. citizens have no Sixth Amendment right to government counsel in immigration proceedings — only a statutory right to retained counsel.
 
The Linklaters team hopes to continue the on-site work next year. 
 
If you’re interested in learning more about the situation affecting immigration detainees’ access to counsel please see a recent Harvard Law Review article about “The Right to be Heard from Immigration Prisons”.
 
To get involved or learn more about SIFI volunteer opportunities visit: https://www.splcenter.org/all-sifi-volunteer-opportunities