JFON begins Know Your Rights Outreach

JFON has finally gained access to the ICE Detention Facility in Calhoun County to conduct Know Your Rights presentations to detainees.  This outreach program is funded by grants from the UMCOR Immigration and Refugees Ministries and the Michigan State Bar Foundation (Administration of Justice Grant).   JFON Attorney Liz Balck makes monthly visits to the Calhoun County facility.  The intent of the presentation is to present legal options to those facing deportation or awaiting a ruling on their asylum application, so they can make the best decision for themselves.  Unlike those facing criminal prosecution, those detained by ICE do not have the right to court appointed attorney and often do not have funds to pay for a private attorney.  The wait in detention can place great hardship on the individual and his/her family outside the facility, with detentions sometimes lasting a year or more.  So far, Liz has made one visit to the Women’s pod, which does not even have access to a law library; and a second to the men’s pod where she met with 20 men.  Her presentations have been well-received by immigrants and staff.  In fact, Calhoun County staff have asked that she be present next month when ICE conducts its facility audit and they are also trying to have Liz conduct a staff training.