It's now been a week since a federal judge ordered the federal government—specifically the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP)—to allow immigrant detainees being held in an Sheridan prison their legal right to an attorney. But, in a check-in with federal lawyers this morning, US District Judge Michael Simon found that the feds are still shirking their duties.
After hearing testimony from lawyers representing the team of immigration attorneys who've tried to meet with the 121 male detainees, Simon concluded that the federal government wasn't granting the immigration attorneys (who work for a Portland firm called Immigration Law Lab) enough time to meet with detainees. In his initial ruling, Simon ordered the Sheridan prison officials allow attorneys six hours per day to meet with detainees interested in their pro bono services. According to ILL, that hasn't been the case. They're also unsure if the detainees have been allowed to access a working phone—another of Simon's requirements.
Since these demands haven't been met, Simon did not lift the temporarily restraining order he placed on the federal government last Monday, despite the government's request. Simon appeared to grow irritated by Dianne Schweiner, the US Attorney's Office lawyer defending the government, as the morning hearing went on.
"You are not listening to me," Simon said at one point, accusing Schweiner of misrepresenting his own court decisions.
Simon's ordered Schweiner to return to court on Friday, July 6, for yet another check-in to guarantee the detainees' legal needs are truly being met. Regardless, Simon has decided to keep the order in place (to allow lawyers into the prison) until July 23.
"We're very happy that Judge Simon continues to recognize that the most important part of all of this is not scheduling, is not logistics, it's the constitutional rights that each and every one of these individuals has ...to due process before the government attempts to deport them," said Leland Baxter-Neal, a staff attorney with ACLU, who's helping represent ILL in this case.