California immigrants seeking asylum may one day find themselves detained by immigration authorities. It can be difficult to secure legal representation for those caught in that situation. With the possibility of deportation hanging over the heads, being detained in an immigration center may seem like the end of the world. Reports issued by the Detention Watch Network have revealed that no one is safe from the legal system concerning immigration in this country. Asylum seekers, legal and illegal immigrants and even pregnant woman are being detained with little to no access to legal representation.

The report states little has changed within detention centers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At any given time, over 400,000 immigrants are detained in private detention centers and county jails. Immigrants do not have access to things to take care of their basic needs such as adequate food, hygiene items and even access to lawyers. They also lack timely medical care, often leading to serious illness or even death.

One detention center in New Jersey is listed as one of the worst violators of immigrant’s human rights. The network claims the jails lacks access to legal representation, items to ensure proper nutrition and does not allow family members to contact each other. In addition, the jail houses criminals together with immigrants detained by ICE. Other centers named in the report are in Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Illinois.

California had one offender on this list. Hundreds of national and local organizations have penned a letter to the president asking the centers be closed and steps be taken to ensure the safety of immigrants who are being detained. Immigrants seeking asylum within this country and who are detained by immigration officials have the right to seek legal representation. Anyone in such a situation is encouraged to understand their legal rights so they can use the system to have their case heard.

Source: New York Daily News, “Even as President Obama promises U.S. immigration detention reform, human rights atrocities in detention jails persist,” Albor Ruiz, Dec. 4, 2012