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New ABA Video Helps Immigrant Detainees Understand Their Rights

New ABA Video Helps Immigrant Detainees Understand Their Rights

By Daniel Buchanan

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2012—To help ensure America’s commitment to justice for all, the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration has produced an updated version of “Know Your Rights,” an educational video for the more than 400,000 men and women held in immigration detention facilities across the country each year.

The “Know Your Rights” video will be especially valuable for more than 80 percent of people in detention who do not have lawyers. Unlike in the criminal justice context, there is no right to government-paid counsel in immigration proceedings.

The 45-minute video replaces a decade-old version with new information that shows detainees how to navigate the court system and what to expect as they await their day in court. Through a series of vignettes with actors re-enacting typical scenarios, the video uses proven adult-education techniques to maximize comprehension and retention. It is available in EnglishSpanish and French.

“The new video will provide a crucial tool to thousands of adults held in immigration detention each year, particularly those held in smaller, more remote facilities with no legal orientation program,” said Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, president of the American Bar Association.  “It will help to promote a fair legal process and to provide meaningful access to justice.”

“Our goal is to increase access to justice for the hundreds of thousands of detainees facing deportation and permanent separation from their families,” said Immigration Commission Chair Karen T. Grisez. “Reliable information is especially important since we know that so many detainees won’t be able to obtain a lawyer and will be forced to represent themselves.”

“‘Know Your Rights’ was also developed to promote efficiency within the immigration adjudication system,” Grisez added. “Detainees who view the video may learn about and pursue relief for which they did not previously know they were eligible. They may even learn there’s a chance they are U.S. citizens. Others may choose not to contest their deportation after learning that they have no meritorious claim, thus conserving resources through shorter detention times and court proceedings.”

The ABA Commission on Immigration collaborated on the project with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Detention Watch Network, and the National Immigrant Justice Center. The Commission is working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to distribute the video to the 250 detention centers across the country.

Click here to view a preview of the video.  To view the entire video, go here.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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