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Attorneys Fight For Detained Immigrants During Pandemic

Ninna Gaensler-Debbs
Francisco Ugarte is the lead attorney with the Immigration Unit out of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.

Because of the coronavirus, justice is moving more slowly in California. Jury trials have been suspended, and hearings have been delayed. But immigration courthouses are still open. In this interview, Francisco Ugarte, an immigration attorney with San Francisco’s Public Defender’s Office, speaks about how this pandemic has changed deportation hearings. 

"I've never gotten any substantive communication from the presiding judge of immigration courts in San Francisco, who, by the way, is located in Detroit. At a level of crisis where the health of all of us is at stake, they're not communicating with us."

The lawsuit seeking the release for thirteen immigrants detained in two ICE detention Centers in California was filed by San Francisco Public Defender’s Office as well as the ACLU, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and Lakin & Wille LLP. The plaintiffs are detained by ICE in Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield, California and at Yuba County Jail. 

Click the play button above to listen to the interview.