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  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

ACLU Files Suit for Records Illegally Denied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

8/24/16

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today challenging a practice by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of withholding documents, without legal justification, that immigration lawyers require to advocate for clients that the agency deems to be “fugitives.”

“The Freedom of Information Act lists nine and only nine possible grounds an agency may rely on to withhold documents from disclosure,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein.  “ICE has invented an additional reason for nondisclosure that cannot be found anywhere in the statute.  Accordingly, the agency’s refusal to disclose documents violates the law.”

Jennifer Smith, an immigration attorney, filed a FOIA request to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for records related to the immigration status of one of her clients.  Immigration attorneys have limited discovery options and can generally gain access to a client’s immigration file only by filing a FOIA request.

USCIS identified a set of documents as responsive and referred the request to ICE, which refused to release the documents.   Instead of relying on one of the statutory exemptions, ICE asserted that Ms. Smith’s client was a “fugitive.” In such cases, the agency wrote, it was ICE’s “practice” to deny access to the FOIA process.

The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to promptly provide responsive documents to any person who requests them.  An agency may only deny a FOIA request based on one or more of nine stated exemptions in the law.  In this case, ICE did not provide Smith any legal justification based on the exemptions for denying access to her client’s immigration file.

The ACLU lawsuit seeks release of the files that were denied to Smith, as well as an end to ICE’s practice of denying records based on a justification that has no basis in law.

Smith is represented by Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Sara Neel and ACLU Cooperating Attorney Daniel J. Culhane of Daniel J. Culhane LLC.

View the ACLU of Colorado complaint: https://aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1-Complaint-082416.pdf



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