“In February 2017, Carlos was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after he dropped one of his daughters at her school bus stop; the agents had been waiting there for him. He was locked in immigration detention in the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey for six weeks before he had his first hearing in immigration court.
Carlos, who wishes to be identified only by his first name, worked as a mechanic and held a green card, making him a legal permanent resident. In jail, he was confused, he missed his three daughters, and he had no idea what was going to happen to him next. He had been arrested so that he could be deported to his native Dominican Republic, having been convicted several years before for two offenses. One was a misdemeanor assault in 2013, for which he served five months in jail, and the other was attempted burglary in 2011, for which he served six months.
“In that month when I was waiting to see a judge, there was no information,” Carlos said. “It was just chaos.”
Then one day, jail guards shackled his legs and hands and transported him and other detainees in the back of a van to the Varick Street Immigration Court in Lower Manhattan. His family had been struggling to find a lawyer, and he wasn’t sure what awaited him. To his surprise, he was taken to a fourth-floor room where he met Molly Lauterback, an attorney from Brooklyn Defender Services, a city-supported pro bono agency; she told him she could represent him free of charge.”
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