March marked the one year anniversary of the CARA Pro Bono Representation Family Detention Project, which focuses on ending family detention and ensuring representation for immigrant families who are processed through the family detention facilities. Nearly 8,000 families had a CARA volunteer attorney help them start the process of seeking asylum. More than 700 volunteers from all over the country -- lawyers, paralegals, translators, social workers, medical professionals, teachers and more -- put their lives on hold for a week or more and traveled to Texas to help protect families. Combined, they contributed more than $6.75 million in volunteer hours.
In early January, the Department of Homeland Security began targeting for removal Central American families and unaccompanied children who had turned 18. CLINIC engaged in extensive national and local advocacy, with staff from the Advocacy and TLS offices participating in national webinars about the actions. The CLINIC advocacy team conducted webinars for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, and provided advocacy support for communities in Arkansas, California, Ohio and Virginia. DHS continues to target immigrant families and unaccompanied children who have turned 18 while in the United States.
Leading up to the Supreme Court’s April 18 oral argument in U.S. v. Texas, CLINIC was one of more than 325 immigrant-serving agencies joining an amicus (friend of the court) brief. Selected stories highlighting the benefits of permitting implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA were featured in the brief filed March 8 by CLINIC and civil rights, labor and social service organizations. The brief urged the court to uphold the Obama administration’s executive actions.
CLINIC continues to fight against the government’s practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children. CLINIC, through its work in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project has been especially active in the national fight to eliminate large scale family detention centers. CLINIC and CARA have been leading advocacy efforts to challenge unlawful asylum, detention, and deportation policies of DHS. Such advocacy activities have included submitting a complaint to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) regarding inadequate language access for indigenous language speakers and filing a letter to high-level DHS officials about glaring due process violations that have occurred since the court order of October 23rd.
The Obama Administration appealed the 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling from Texas v. U.S. to the Supreme Court on November 20, 2015. The Supreme Court announced on January 19th, that it will take up the case which will likely be argued in April and decided by the last week in June. While the outcome of the case is pending, CLINIC recommends that qualified legal immigration practitioners continue client screenings to assist those eligible for other immigration benefits. Please see CLINIC’s useful timeline on the President’s Executive Action on Immigration
From January 2- 4, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted enforcement actions targeting immigrants who arrived to the United States after January 1, 2014, and had final orders of removal. DHS picked up 121 individuals in local communities in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. CLINIC responded to these action by writing a a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, condemning the targeting of Central American women and children and urging an end to the practice, putting together a a backgrounder explaining the recent actions and what to do in your community, and, through its partnership with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, help receive stays of deportation from the Board of Immigration Appeals in twelve cases, affecting thirty-three women and children. CLINIC continues to monitor this issue and will appreciate hearing what is occurring in your community.