December 28, 2016

Detention Standards Implementation Initiative

Detention Standards Implementation Initiative


We need you to help make this initiative a success!

The American Bar Association's (ABA) Commission on Immigration has undertaken the Detention Standards Implementation Initiative (Initiative). The Initiative is an innovative national effort by the organized bar to contribute to the consistent implementation of the Standards which govern legal access issues at all Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE – formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service or INS) detention facilities and other facilities detaining immigrants and asylum seekers. Under the auspices of the Commission on Immigration, Initiative participants will visit and tour facilities and produce an official report for the ABA to share with ICE, with emphasis on the implementation of the legal access Standards.

The Detention Standards are the result of negotiations between the ABA, the Department of Justice, the former INS, and other organizations involved in pro bono representation and advocacy for immigration detainees. The Standards, which took effect in January 2001, are comprehensive and encompass a range of issues including access to legal services and materials, medical care, grievance procedures, and detainee transfers. Immigration detention has increased dramatically in recent years, in part as a result of 1996 immigration law amendments that mandated the detention of certain immigrants and asylum seekers. ICE detains more than 31,000 people every day, over 310,000 per year, at over 350 sites across the U.S., the majority of which are county and local jails. While the average length of detention is 37 days, thousands of people are held for six months or longer.

As a key stakeholder in developing the Standards, the ABA is committed to their full and effective implementation. In a spirit of cooperation with ICE, the ABA's Commission on Immigration has undertaken this special Initiative to visit, tour, and report on observations of the facilities across the country, with a special focus on legal access. The organized bar is in a unique position to contribute to ICE’s implementation of the Standards at facilities nationwide.

The ABA’s Commission on Immigration recruits lawyers, law firms, and bar associations to participate on a pro bono basis in special delegations to tour and report on various detention facilities’ implementation of the Standards. Delegation leaders are responsible for organizing a team of up to six volunteers for a facility visit and tour; researching the local detention situation; visiting the detention center; and producing a report on the delegation’s observations for the ABA for advocacy purposes. Through participation in the Detention Standards Implementation Initiative, the organized bar and attorneys can help facilitate access to counsel and fair treatment for detained immigrants and asylum seekers.

For more information regarding volunteering with the Initiative, please click here.

If you, your firm, or your bar association is interested in participating in this Initiative, please contact:

Robert Lang
202-662-1008 or
Commission on Immigration
American Bar Association
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036