Immigrants with and without legal status can be detained and deported if they are found to be in violation of immigration law. ILAP is committed to defending the rights of all immigrants in Maine, including those who are have been detained as a result of committing a crime and those facing removal. It is especially important for individuals impacted by immigration enforcement efforts to have competent legal representation to prevent mistreatment and the infringement of their rights.
Cumberland County Jail
If someone in Maine is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), they are typically held at Cumberland County Jail in Portland before being transferred to a federal detention center in another state. Because the time an immigrant spends at the Jail is typically quite short, ILAP attorneys are unable to provide them with full legal representation. However, through brief consultations, ILAP attorneys make a difference by providing information and legal advice that gives immigrants a better chance of presenting their cases on their own. Not only do these consultations assist the individuals served, they also provide ILAP with a window into the practices of ICE agents operating within the state of Maine. ILAP attorneys also educate immigrants in detention about their due process and civil rights within the U.S. immigration system as a means of empowering them to confront abuses they may experience.
Whereas in the criminal justice system, all defendants are provided with a free lawyer if they cannot afford one, in the immigration system, immigrants facing deportation (also known as “removal”) do not have the right to court-appointed counsel. As a result, the majority of immigrants in removal proceedings in Immigration Court are unrepresented. Lack of legal representation tends to have a profound impact on an immigrant’s ability to remain in the United States and immigrants with legal representation are much more likely to succeed in Immigration Court. In limited circumstances, ILAP is able to represent clients facing deportation in Immigration Court and help them identify and present all available defenses to their removal. Because of the enormous backlog in the immigration court system, these cases can take several years before they reach a final decision.