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The "Guerrilla Habeas Team" Combating ICE in New York

March 06, 2019 (1 min read)

Alice Speri, The Intercept, Mar. 5, 2019

"...In New York, as across the country, Trump’s war on immigrants had manifested in an escalation of detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who had lived in the country sometimes for decades. Many had no criminal record or only minor offenses to their names; most had jobs, children, and friends here; virtually all were already pursuing legal processes to stay. While those detained in New York state fared better than many across the country — largely thanks to state legislation that guarantees anyone held in immigration detention access to free legal representation — the need for lawyers remained overwhelming. And perhaps harder to find, the lawyers had to be willing to never give up.

Desperate calls for help came in daily, and Gillman and Copeland felt a need to be more nimble and aggressive than working for a large nonprofit allowed them to be. In January, they partnered with the immigrant-led New Sanctuary Coalition and set up their two-person operation out of a coworking space — but more often, Gillman’s car. In just over a month, they picked up more than 20 cases. In addition to their partnership with the coalition, they also work with law school clinics, pro bono firms, and community organizations. Advocates, other lawyers, and even city officials reach out to them constantly, sometimes about cases everyone else has turned down. Their working model seems to be to never say no. ..."