CMS Dialogue: ABA’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards: Promoting Fair Treatment and Access to Justice

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012,  the American Bar Association and the Center for Migration Studies hosted a dialogue on the ABA’s new Civil Immigration Detention Standards at the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester LLP located in New York.  The standards build on the ABA’s longstanding leadership in increasing access to justice and humane treatment for men and women in immigration detention, and address:  daily living conditions; access to legal services; communications; visitation; access to religious services; grievances; accountability and oversight; and other areas.  The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) existing detention standards originated through a process of collaboration between the ABA, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and DOJ’s former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); they have been updated several times since they were originally issued in 2000.

The ABA Commission on Immigration developed the Civil Immigration Detention Standards to provide the DHS with a guide for transitioning to a civil detention system that befits its civil detention authority.  The civil standards arise, in part, from the ABA’s extensive advocacy, monitoring, and reporting on immigration detention, as well as its direct work with men and women in detention.  The standards were developed under the guidance of an expert Advisory Task Force that included a former Commissioner of the INS, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction Dora S. Schriro, and experts from the corrections, medical, academic, and other fields.  They were drafted with the pro bono assistance of Crowell & Moring LLP.

Featured speakers at the event included:

  • Dora B. SchriroCommissioner, New York City Department of Correction
  • Donald M. KerwinExecutive Director, Center for Migration Studies
  • Karen T. GrisezSpecial Counsel, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Moderator

ABA President-Elect James R. Silkenat offered closing remarks, and a question and answer session followed presentations.

Video of the event is now online:

CMS Dialogue: ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards from Center for Migration Studies on Vimeo.

The event was also covered in the following articles:

Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First, “ABA and CMS Event Focuses on ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards and Need to Reform U.S. Immigration  Detention Policies.” (November 15, 2012)

American Bar Association, “Panel on ABA’s New Civil Immigration Detention Standards Emphasizes ‘Nonpunitive’ Treatment for Detainees.” (November 30, 2012)