The Charleston 200
Secret Transfer of Immigrants to Charleston
In the first week of January 2019, with the United States in the throes of a shutdown that brought much of the immigration justice system to a halt, immigration advocate networks picked up on a rumor that at least 200 men seeking asylum in the United States had been secretly transferred to a jail in Charleston, South Carolina. Subsequent investigations by a network of sleuths led by Innovation Law Lab and the private bar in Charleston confirmed the total number of unrepresented men at just north of that number.
Frontera Tech, in concert with Innovation Law Lab, aims to represent all the unrepresented asylum seekers, and has already begun putting in G-28s as of Tuesday, January 15, 2019.
A New Beachhead for ICE in Charleston
The 2018 mid-term elections had seen the Carolinas notch a series of impressive electoral victories at the state and local level for the states’ respective immigrant residents, with several of the biggest one’s coming in North Carolina, where three 287(g) county Sheriffs lost their elections to pro-immigrant Sheriffs.
The three counties represent North Carolina’s three largest cities of Durham, Raleigh, and Charlotte. The latter two comprise the two primary headquarters for ICE agents in North Carolina.
With the transfer of over 200 immigrants to Charleston, an unprecedented number to be placed into that facility, it is likely that ICE is looking to establish a new beachhead for its operations in the Carolinas. The Charleston detention center may well become a new holding pen for all immigrants in the Carolinas arrested by ICE, and be a stop on the ICE-bus circuit that takes immigrants from their homes to the main detention center facilities in the Southeast, including Stewart.
Charleston is Hostile to Immigrants
Charleston is by some measures the most hostile local jurisdiction for immigrants in the entire South, which is saying something. Not only does it house a detention facility, but it also has a locally funded “Immigrant Enforcement Unit”, which has become the subject of several deeply concerning profiles.
Protecting the Charleston 200’s Due Process Rights
If allowed to house the 200+ immigrant men unchallenged, it is certain that the facility operators at the Charleston detention center will do what they believe necessary to move as many of the men through the detention machine as possible. As has been true in past mass-round up events, this means that the due process rights of the immigrant men in custody will be trampled upon. There may be mass trials, or, due to the government shutdown, expedited hearings where detainees are erroneously denied hearings with an immigration judge. Photo Credit, The Intercept, “HIDDEN HORRORS OF “ZERO TOLERANCE” — MASS TRIALS AND CHILDREN TAKEN FROM THEIR PARENTS” by Debbie Nathan
The only way to stop Charleston’s new Big Immigration Machine is through implementing Big Immigration Law principles, which you can read about immediately below:”Big
The gist is that when trying to uphold due process rights in the face of a massive deportation system, on top of a body of law that is slim on due process rights for immigrants to begin with, it is important to scale up legal efforts using technology and modern organizing techniques that decouple lawyering from the multitude of other tasks that go into successful legal representation.
To wit, Frontera Tech and Innovation Law Lab, are partnering along with an army of interpreters, volunteer lawyers, and volunteer staff to represent all 200+ unrepresented men in the facility during their credible fear interviews. Credible fear interviews are the first step in the asylum process, and will allow the men that pass them to go before an immigration judge and to be granted parole if they have a sponsor in the United States.
Charleston Pro Bono Project volunteer translator speaks with Al Cannon Detention Facility detainee, January 2019