Food, water, a bed, and basic sanitation. These are fundamental needs for every person, every day. These basic needs, however, are not being met for thousands of immigrants who are housed in short-term immigrant detention centers at the southern United States border, according to a lawsuit filed by a MoFo pro bono legal team in 2015.
In the case Doe v. Johnson, the MoFo team, working in tandem with the American Immigration Council (AIC), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU of Arizona, and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), challenges the detention conditions in U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities, citing them as inhumane and unconstitutional. As the lawsuit notes, the facilities are widely known as hieleras, or iceboxes, because they are often kept at extremely cold temperatures.
On June 15, 2018, during the American Immigration Council’s Annual Conference, the organization honored the MoFo pro bono team, composed of more than 90 lawyers from around the firm’s global offices, for its exceptional work on this case.
“These talented litigators have worked tirelessly over the past three years to fight for humane conditions in the hieleras. The hieleras are notorious for being freezing, overcrowded, and filthy, and yet the government has detained individuals in these cells for days at a time, depriving them of beds, adequate food and water, and basic sanitation and hygiene items. Our honorees rose to the challenge and demanded that the government put an end to this practice,” said AIC executive director, Beth Werlin.
Accepting the award on behalf of the MoFo team, associate Pieter S. de Ganon had this to say about the recognition: “On behalf of all of us at Morrison & Foerster, thank you for this honor. We are deeply humbled.”
“We look forward to taking this case to trial—and securing lasting, urgently needed relief for our clients. And we can’t think of a better team of lawyers with which to do so than our partners at AIC, ACLU, NILC, and the Lawyers’ Committee,” added Pieter.
Over the past three years, the MoFo team representing eight offices, some as far afield as Tokyo, has devoted 17,000 hours to its fight to improve these conditions.
The MoFo team is being led by partners Colette Reiner Mayer (Palo Alto) and Louise C. Stoupe (Tokyo) and includes associates Elizabeth Balassone (San Francisco), Pieter S. de Ganon (Palo Alto), Samuel C. Cortina (San Diego), and dozens of other associates and staff members from across the firm’s global offices.