Local immigration attorneys say legal process of ICE removals is tough battle

Local immigration attorneys Carlos Spector and Jessica Miles tell KFOX14 that the vast majority of people arrested during Immigration and Customs Enforcement removals don’t have legal representation. It’s just one of the many legal hurdles people have to overcome once they are arrested by ICE.

"Thereafter, they're booked into the immigration camp,” Spector said. “That's many times where the nightmare begins."

After being detained, the legal battles begin -- and they aren’t easy ones.

"The fact that they are not released, we believe, is a policy of prolonged detention designed to frustrate them in terms of getting representation in terms of being able... to defend themselves,” Spector said.

Miles says the next challenge is when these people actually set foot in a courtroom.

"Immigrants do not have a legal right to a free defense attorney,” Miles said. “So a vast majority of immigrants actually have to go in front of a judge and defend themselves against the government by themselves without any help whatsoever."

Some El Pasoans said they feel for those people who may not get legal representation in their case against ICE removals.

"Everybody deserves to be treated fairly and I don't think... just because they may or may not be here illegally, I don't think that they should be treated with disrespect like that,” said Heather Varagas of West El Paso.

Others see it a little differently.

"If they're right in what they are doing, they should get representation,” Richard Mayo of West El Paso said. “If they've been (arrested) for some criminal activity or something, then no."

Jessica Miles says, that even if someone arrested by ICE stands trial, the odds of winning the case are slim.

"A vast majority of pro se defendants fail and are deported,” Miles said. “Even if you have an attorney, the likelihood is very low, particularly in El Paso, for things like asylum."

A spokesperson with ICE sent us a statement, saying these operations are conducted professionally and respectfully.

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