Skip to main content

The Stewart Detention Center: Where Due Process, Decency, and Common Sense Go to Die

Blogs posted by the attorneys at Kuck Immigration Partners are designed to be informational.  While this blog entry is meant to be informational, in all honesty, it also serves a separate selfish purpose – allowing me to vent. 

For those who don’t know, the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) is a prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and is the largest immigration detention facility in the United States.  Immigrants who are detained for different reasons (from driving without a license, to being encountered at the border, to more serious offenses) are shipped from all over the United States to the SDC which is in Lumpkin, Georgia.  Never heard of Lumpkin, Georgia?  Yeah, neither has anyone else, because Lumpkin is in the middle of nowhere.  The following is just a small example of what goes on at SDC.

  • ·       Bonds are denied by the Immigration Judges, routinely without explanation.  The Judges at the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) do not give bonds except in rare cases.  More likely than not, after a well-presented bond motion, the Judge will simply state that there will not be a bond in the case.  When asked the reason, the Judges have been known to say “I don’t have to give you a reason.  If you want to appeal my decision I will write up my decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals.”   Judges know full well that appeals take around 3 months, and people are unlikely to agree to wait out the appeal while they are in a horribly run jail, and instead give up and agree to deportation.  That appears to be the Judges’ plan, and that is a huge part of how they are able to maintain a 97 % deportation rate year after year (highest in the nation).  In the rare case a client to agrees to stay detained while we fight the appeal, the Judges commonly react to the appeal by setting the client for a quick hearing on whatever application they might be submitting with the apparent end goal of going ahead and denying the client’s case so the bond appeal will be moot.  Criminal courts grant reasonable bonds.  Other immigration courts grant reasonable bonds.  The Judges in SDC see the bond as a troublesome cog in their well-oiled deportation machine and treat it as such.  Gotta keep those deportation numbers up…

  • ·       Attorneys are denied visitation of clients, hassled needlessly, or made to wait exorbitant amounts of time to visit clients in unacceptable conditions.  It is common-place for an attorney to be told by SDC staff they will not be able to see their client, or will have to wait several hours to see their client.  This after the attorney spent three hours in their car driving to the SDC (that’s right, SDC is three hours from Atlanta – this fact alone restricts access to counsel).  The staff at SDC changes its visitation policy from day to day.  Sometimes they require attorneys to call ahead to schedule a visitation.  Other times they will not accept call-ahead appointments and tell the attorney to just come.  Not only does staff make it difficult to even get to your client, they won’t allow attorneys to bring law books or large files into the meeting, despite the fact that it is a no-contact meeting and it would be impossible to pass the book or file to the client.  Recently an attorney was told that he would not be allowed to see his client because it was too late in the day, and then that he would not see his client because all of the visitation rooms were full.  Suit was filed in Federal District Court, and the Judge was shocked to hear that a detainee was deprived of his right of access to counsel.  Little did the Federal Judge know this is practically the norm. Even more outrageous, female attorneys have been told they will not be able to access to clients if they wear certain types of bras (not sure if CCA has a contract with Victoria’s Secret)!  Also outrageous, Muslim women attorneys have been forced to remove their hijabs before being allowed access to clients!  To top it off, if or when attorneys are finally granted access to clients, they are forced to speak on phones with cords so short you can barely see your client through the window while you try to balance delicately on a cheap plastic dollar store lawn chair. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg at SDC.  Future vent sessions will deal with the lack of adequate medical care, outbreaks of illnesses and lice, verbal abuse and mistreatment of attorneys, and judicial misconduct in confiscating attorney work product.  I hope that you are shaking your heads as you read this.  But more than that, I hope that by shining a small light on the crap that goes on at the SDC that others will be encouraged to stand up and fight the injustice as well.


  1. YEP, The same experiences to be had at Eloy Detention Center, including inadequate medical care, abuse, intimidation, mistreatment of trans women, and retaliation. The lists goes on and on. These internment camps are an abomination in this country! KUDOS to all the attorneys and activists fighting for justice!

  2. Georgia has to be the worst place in the country to practice immigration law. My hat's off to you for fighting the good fight against impossible odds.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

If You Are An Immigrant (even a US Citizen), Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

Are you a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant? We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself in our current version of America.
The last couple of weeks have reminded immigrants, even naturalized U.S. citizens, that they were not born in the United States. Our office has received countless phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people worrying about what their family’s future in the United States holds.
Most people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves from what promises to be a wave of anti-immigration activity by the federal government. Trump's Executive Order on Interior Enforcement has some provisions that should make most Americans shiver.  We recommend the following actions for each of the following groups:
Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you have a foreign accent, and you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), we strongly rec…

Why is USCIS Taking So Long to Renew DACA Work Permits?

If the calls to our office are any indicator, there are thousands of DACA recipients whose work permit applications were filed at least three months prior to expiration, who are still waiting for their renewed work permits.  Without renewed permits, these individuals lose the right to work legally, the right to drive, and may once again accrue unlawful presence.

The DHS published a notice in October 2014 advising DACA recipients that they could file their request for extension up to 150 days (5 months) prior to expiration.  As with all things government, very few of the DACA recipients, who tend not to frequent government websites, knew about the memo and many did not file so far before expiration perhaps thinking that extending a work permit was a like extending a drivers license, its is done in a few minutes.  As an experienced immigration lawyer will tell you, the USCIS does nothing quickly, and certainly does not worry that a person may lose their job or their driver's licens…


Todas las personas en los Estados Unidos, incluidos los extranjeros y aun los con ordenes de deportacion, tienen ciertos derechos básicos que deben ser respetados por los agentes de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE). Estos derechos se derivan tanto de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. y las leyes de Estados Unidos. Como extranjero, usted tiene los siguientes derechos:

Usted tiene el derecho de negar la entrada a un agente de ICE a su casa sin una orden válida. Esta orden debe ser firmado por un juez. Usted puede negarse a abrir la puerta, o se puede cerrar la puerta después de descubrir que el agente no tiene una orden válida. Los agentes del ICE generalmente no vienen con una orden judicial. Estos agentes suelen venir a la casa de alguien con una orden final de deportación, muy temprano en la mañana. Si alguien está golpeando en su puerta a las 6:00 am, no le es requerido abrir la puerta. Mirar fuera de primera. Si es un agente del gobierno, ust…