Detention deprives people of a fair shot in their immigration cases. Unlike defendants in criminal cases, immigrants in deportation proceedings do not have the right to a court-appointed lawyer, and many are not able to afford a private lawyer. The remote locations of many detention centers make it extra difficult for detained immigrants to find legal representation. Detention facilities also charge exorbitant rates for the phone calls - up to a dollar a minute - that are the only way for many people to stay in touch with their lawyers and families. This is why in many places, less than 10% of people in detention win their cases, even though the success rate for immigrants facing deportation overall is over 50%.
"They tell you that if you want to leave, sign - get deported. After 15 days of being in there, I just wanted to sign and get out. - Alexander Lora
Alex Lora, a lawful permanent resident since the age of seven, came close to accepting an order of deportation when he was put into immigration detention. He didn't for two reasons. First, when Alex was taken into custody, his two-year-old son was placed in foster care, and he was determined to fight to bring him home. Second, thanks to a first-of-its-kind pilot program in New York, Mr. Lora was appointed an immigration lawyer funded by the City Council who convinced him to fight his case. In the video (left), Alex speaks about his ordeal in detention, and how he was able to fight to keep his family together with the help of his lawyer.