Thousands of immigrants from dozens of countries are warehoused in Arizona detention centers operated by the Department of Homeland Security. Many detainees are battling deportation, officially known as “removal proceedings.” Most are poor and can’t afford lawyers. Their cases, however, might be very strong. The Florence Project offers free legal services to men and women in detention, as well as to hundreds of “unaccompanied” immigrant children. The project also provides social services to fragile detainees, such as the mentally ill, asylum seekers, torture survivors, domestic violence victims, and those who suffer from serious illnesses.
“I see this as a basic human rights and justice issue,” says executive director Lauren Dasse. “We serve such an important need to be present with people – adults and children – and give them the information, and to help people keep their families together and escape persecution or violence.”