The following statement was submitted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) .
We've just launched an important new project to protect the rights of immigrants who are being caught up in the Trump dragnet.
They're people like Daniela Vargas, a young woman who has lived in Mississippi most of her life after being brought here from Argentina when she was just 7.
Daniela was previously protected under the DACA program that began under President Obama. But her permission expired in November, and she couldn't pay the $495 fee to renew it until last month.
Last week, she spoke at a press conference about her hopes of being able to stay and contribute to the only country she knows.
Minutes later – in a transparent attempt to chill free speech and intimidate immigrants who speak up – ICE agents grabbed her and locked her away in a remote facility in Louisiana.
The government claims Daniela's not even entitled to a hearing before she is sent back to Argentina.
We've just filed papers in court to seek her release and to protect her free speech and due process rights.
But there are many more people – mothers, fathers, neighbors, employees, classmates, church members – being taken from their families and thrown into prison-like detention facilities. The vast majority aren't "criminals" or "rapists," as President Trump has called them.
And most of them don't have lawyers. That means their constitutional rights are often trampled in immigration courts that are part of the deportation machine.
That's why we've started the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI).
We’re planning to enlist and train hundreds of pro bono lawyers to provide free representation to every immigrant in a Southeastern detention facility.
Immigrants deserve fair and humane treatment. At the same time, we have to protect our nation's most fundamental values.
If you are an attorney interested in volunteering your services to this project, please sign up here.
But if you're not an attorney, please do what you can to speak up for justice. And thank you for supporting this vital work.