Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Immigrant detainees charged high prices for phone calls to family

As if their legal circumstances were not already complicated enough, it recently has been revealed that California immigrants confined to detention facilities may not be able to afford to contact anyone on the outside world.  The connection fee for a telephone call alone is $3.25 for each call.  The inmates are then charged a perminute rate for their phone calls, and a 20 minute conversation with their children under the best of circumstances may end up costing them around $14.

It appears that it does not matter what sort of call is being made.  Even if the detained immigrant facing deportation is making a call to his or her attorney concerning their legal defense, they will still be charged at the very same rates.  These circumstances come about in part because detention centers are allowed to contract out their phone services.

The concern for any immigrant being held against their will is the amount of isolation they are likely to face. These individuals often have no one to speak to when behind the detention center walls, and they may not be aware of the sorts of legal options they have available for them to fight any charges. What happens in many circumstances is the individual is detained for a certain period of time and then deported.

Immigrant attorneys will do all that they can to make certain that those detained are treated humanely, provided with an opportunity to contest any allegations brought against them, and make certain that these individuals can find time to meet with their families and receive the kind of counsel and assistance they badly require.

Source: Think Progress, "At California Detention Center, Immigrants Must Pay $20 for A Five-Minute Phone Call," by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, May 16, 2013

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