Southern Poverty Law Center Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative

The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. founded the SPLC in 1971 to ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. Since then, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.

Every day, tens of thousands of immigrants are locked behind bars in the United States. Many are detained for months, even years, far from their loved ones and communities. They’re subject to the same abuses prevalent in the country’s criminal justice system — confinement, low-quality nutrition and medical treatment, and rampant abuse — without the constitutional right to an attorney. Although immigrants with legal counsel are more than 10 times as likely to succeed in their cases, the vast majority of detainees are forced to represent themselves in their proceedings.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) challenges the deportation machine and safeguards immigrants’ rights. SIFI volunteers and staff provide pro bono help to immigrants detained at five detention centers across the Southeast.

What we do:

  • Protect immigrants’ due process rights
  • Hold law enforcement and detention facility personnel accountable for civil rights violations
  • Challenge the deportation machine
  • Educate the public about immigrants and debunk falsehoods
  • Cultivate and expand attorney engagement

The South, which already has some of the highest rates of incarceration in the country, is the bargain basement of immigration detention. Facilities charge among the lowest per diem rates in the country in order to land Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts that can create jobs for communities, revenue for municipalities and profits for private prison operators, no matter the long-term cost.

SPLC will continue with its work until the day comes when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality for all. To obtain more information about our work, please go to our website: