“When people are afraid to appear for court hearings, out of fear of apprehension by immigration officials, their ability to access justice is compromised.”
State Court Accompaniment, meaning accompaniment to non-immigration court, includes municipalities, counties, districts, and superior courts (excluding the United States District Court – Western District of Washington). The term, ‘State Court’ extends to any and all business that is conducted in a courthouse.
In response to the rise of immigration-related arrests, including the recent immigration-related arrests in Skagit County Jails & other Local County Detention Centers which violated the Keep Washington Working Act and Courts Open to All Act, the Church Council of Greater Seattle’s accompaniment team launched a full State Courthouse Accompaniment Program in October, 2020.
State Court Accompaniment encompasses many forms of accompaniment, such as..
- Know Your Rights 101 training regarding ICE enforcement
- Family Emergency Preparedness Planning for apprehension of family members
- Pre-Accompaniment Intake Prep Form completion
- Presence and testimony at court hearings – including release hearing – where demonstration of community support is useful
- Driving community members to and from court.
Want to know more or volunteer for State Court Accompaniment?
Following careful discernment by the Church Council’s Accompaniment Core Team, we are moving forward with accompaniment for State Court hearings in accordance with strict COVID 19 safety measures and in accordance with King County Public Health.
CCGS affirm the following accompaniment values:
- Everyone has the right to due process and equal access to justice, regardless of their immigration status
- Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their past actions;
- There are no “good immigrants” and “bad immigrants”
Our volunteers can help with:
- Photographing/documentation of ICE enforcement
- Activating Local Rapid Response teams
- Court accompaniment and support
- Information and referrals about community and legal resources
- Family safety planning
- Zoom practice
- Navigating the criminal justice system
- Registering for court-orders (i.e., probation, court fees, mandatory treatment, etc)
- Facilitate access to justice for immigrants by helping them understand and navigate their cases;
- Provide an additional way for justice advocates to supplement their own client services and allow lawyers to operate “at the top of their licenses”; and
- Activate an array of justice advocates to better understand the criminal justice and immigration system, and accompany them in managing the often unfamiliar and daunting court process
The role of a state court accompaniment team:
- Scouting team
- ICE Liason
- Community Liason
Note: While we offer state court accompaniment, the Church Council does not provide legal assistance.