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MI Lawmakers Troubled Over Ohio ICE Detentions

Some Michigan lawmakers say immigration enforcement activities should be planned in a way that promotes detainees' access to counsel. (Fibbonaci Blue/Flickr)
Some Michigan lawmakers say immigration enforcement activities should be planned in a way that promotes detainees' access to counsel. (Fibbonaci Blue/Flickr)
June 28, 2017

LANSING, Mich. - Some Michigan lawmakers are demanding that immigrants held in detention are ensured better access to justice.

Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, is one member of a bipartisan group of state representatives that she describes as "troubled" that so many people taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Detroit office are being sent to Youngstown, Ohio.

"Youngstown is 230 miles away from Detroit," she said, "so I'm really concerned about what that long distance means for people who may need to be in touch with their children or their family members and, of course, their attorneys, as they are awaiting action in the court."

The lawmakers sent a letter to Rebecca Adducci, head of the Detroit ICE office, requesting that major enforcement activities are planned in a way that promotes access to counsel. It stated that since mid-January, more than half of people detained in Detroit have been sent to Youngstown. A spokesman for the office said that, whenever possible, the agency aims to keep detainees within the geographical area of their arrest and allows visits, phone calls and legal counsel.

Earlier this month, immigration agents took more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area into custody, and on Monday, a federal judge granted a stay of removal.

Chang said it is important that enforcement of immigration law doesn't hinder due process.

"The enforcement activity does not need to be this high, but I know that that is probably not a likely alternative," she said. "So, what can ICE do to better promote access to the counsel and to ensure better access to justice? We should be exploring those alternatives."

Chang said she understands that sometimes there isn't enough local bed space for detainees, but noted that in a meeting earlier this year, Adducci said additional facility contracts in Michigan were being discussed. The letter requests an update on those efforts.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI