We find ourselves facing anti-immigrant sentiment aimed at the most vulnerable among us. This takes the form of rhetoric that dehumanizes immigrants, executive orders to ramp up detention and removal, the expansion of expedited removal, and shutting down refugee processing and barring people from certain Muslim countries. In addition, more than 500,000 immigrants currently have pending immigration court proceedings. The overwhelming majority of them must represent themselves because legal representation is not available.
To respond to these urgent circumstances and prepare for additional policy measures that will hurt immigrant families, CLINIC has launched the Defending Vulnerable Populations Project.
The project’s primary objective is to increase the number of fully accredited representatives and attorneys who are qualified to represent immigrants in immigration court proceedings. To accomplish this, the Defending Vulnerable Populations Project will conduct court skills training for both nonprofit agency staff (accredited representatives and attorneys) and pro bono attorneys; develop practice materials to assist legal representatives; advocate against retrogressive policy changes; and expand public awareness on issues faced by vulnerable immigrants.
By increasing access to competent, affordable representation, the project’s initiatives will focus on protecting the most vulnerable immigrants – those at immediate risk of deportation. As project Managing Attorney Michelle Mendez explains: “It is the responsibility of the legal community to protect immigrants living in the United States who do not have a voice. They are an integral part of our families, communities, schools and universities, places of worship, workforce, food supply chain, and the very identity of this nation. We are committed to defending their rights because this is what justice and fairness dictates and because, if their rights are safe, all of our rights are safe.”
The Defending Vulnerable Populations project complements and encompasses CLINIC’s established BIA Pro Bono Appeals project, which partners with volunteer attorneys and law clinics to defend detained asylum seekers and long-time lawful permanent residents before the Board of Immigration Appeals at no charge. The BIA is the nation’s highest immigration court, deciding deportation cases. A Department of Justice report in 2014 found that BIA Pro Bono Project clients were three times more likely to receive a favorable result in their cases when they obtained representation through the project.
“For 16 years, the BIA Pro Bono Project has taken the toughest cases on behalf of the most vulnerable immigrants,” said Bradley Jenkins, CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project Manager. “Through the efforts of our pro bono attorneys, we have transformed deportation orders into durable relief for hundreds of refugees and permanent residents, and in the process, we have set precedents that protect thousands more.”
Building on the foundation of the BIA Pro Bono Project, the Defending Vulnerable Populations Project team will build effective court skills through a combination of e-learning and in-person trainings, mentorship, legal and advocacy case support, and comprehensive legal resources. “Increasing access to competent, affordable removal defense nationwide at the trial level is our goal. Winning cases before immigration judges is not only possible with the proper guidance and support, it will alleviate the need for BIA appeals,” said Staff Attorney Rebecca Scholtz.
The Defending Vulnerable Populations Project is comprised of Gabriela Castro, Mary Grace Donahue, Bradley Jenkins, Michelle Mendez, Rachel Naggar, Vickie Neilson, and Rebecca Scholtz.
If you are a CLINIC affiliate or non-profit attorney interested in participating, please contact Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Assistant, Gabriela Castro at email@example.com.
Read our DACA related practice advisories here.
This report highlights the high rate of unrepresented families with valid asylum claims, features clients’ stories, discusses the obstacles families face in attending their immigration court hearings, explains how the immigration system fails families seeking asylum, and provides policy recommendations for how the Trump Administration and Congress can address these shortcomings.
As more noncitizens are targeted for the initiation of removal proceedings under the Trump administration’s broadened enforcement priorities, immigration court dockets will likely become even more backlogged. Given these strains and the reality of human fallibility, there will continue to be instances in which practitioners observe inappropriate and problematic immigration judge conduct.
This practice advisory is designed for practitioners representing child clients in removal proceedings or advising family members of child clients in removal proceedings. As reports of ICE arresting parents and family members emerge, the goal of this advisory is to provide guidance and suggestions to practitioners on best practices for mitigating the risk of civil immigration enforcement or criminal prosecution of family members of children in removal proceedings.
CLINIC, along with allies, filed a request for a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arguing that DOJ EOIR violates the human rights of asylum seekers because certain immigration courts within the U.S. system have virtually denied all asylum claims before them.
President Trump’s Jan. 27, 2017 executive order, known as the travel ban, has been challenged several times in districts across the country. Here are the newest updates.
SILVER SPRING, Maryland -- A new program under CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations Project will provide immigration legal advice and representation to people from countries covered by the Trump administration’s travel ban.
This is CLINIC’s project to assist immigrants from the countries targeted by Trump administration executive orders.
We provide legal support and advice on immigration matters, primarily to residents of Montgomery County, Maryland, who are experiencing delays or other problems with immigration cases.
Please fill out this web form and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Como el Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE, por su sigla inglés) del Departamento de Seguridad Interna (DHS, por su sigla inglés) sigue a hacer cumplir las leyes de inmigración y un creciente número de inmigrantes están sujetos a detención, los defensores no solo tienen que representar a sus clientes en procedimientos de fianza, pero también tienen que asistirlos a recuperar la fianza. Also available in English.
What is the definition of an unaccompanied child (“UC”) under federal immigration law and what protections are afforded to such children? This practice advisory is intended to educate advocates on important UC protections and assist them with starting-point strategies for combating Department of Homeland Security efforts to strip vulnerable children of protections afforded to them as unaccompanied children. The practice advisory also discusses other steps advocates and communities can take to ensure that vulnerable children’s rights are protected.
In a three-page April 11, 2017, memorandum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for increased criminal prosecution of noncitizens. Living up to his pro-prosecution, anti-immigrant reputation, Sessions’ memo directs federal prosecutors to prioritize bringing criminal charges to “further reduce illegality.”
The Board of Immigration Appeals issued a precedent decision about administrative closure, on April 18, 2017. Administrative closure is a procedure that temporarily removes a case from an immigration judge’s active calendar. It is usually done due to the possibility of some event that is “relevant to immigration proceedings but is outside the control of the parties or the court and may not occur for a significant or undetermined period of time.”
This webinar covered some best practices in informing your client communities about exposure to enforcement, protection against enforcement, and potential eligibility for immigration benefits. It addressed: current enforcement priorities (as of 3/13/17); what to cover in a Know Your Rights presentation and how to cover it; what materials to distribute; the potential integration of self-screening or onsite screening by legal providers; and safety planning information.
Learn about what makes Maryland unique when it comes to contingency planning. Those participating in this webinar will learn how to properly advise resident Maryland families who are facing potential family separation and what measures they should take to care for their children. It considers custody, guardianship, powers of attorney and kinship care affidavits. Ethical issues will also are discussed. Featured speakers are Maryland attorneys Van Doan, Jon Greene, and Michael Stelmack.
CLINIC, along with Public Counsel, filed this amicus brief on March 7, 2016 in Doe v. Sessions before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Since 2014, the Executive Office for Immigration Review docketing priorities have included unaccompanied minors and adults with children who were released at the border or from family detention.
The “Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL): A State-by-State Overview of Legal Mechanisms to Combat these Deceptive Practice” resource is intended for immigration attorneys, recognized and accredited representative, and community-based organizations assisting noncitizen clients who have been victims of unauthorized practice of immigration law.
CLINIC has asked SIJ experts in MD and NY to draft affidavits describing in detail their respective state laws expanding state “juvenile” court jurisdiction from 18 to the age of 20. Advocates should use these affidavits in a creative manner including submission to USCIS in response to Requests for Further Evidence (RFE) or to Immigration Judge to request release from custody.
Are you expecting a friend or family member to arrive from one of the "travel ban" countries? Tell Airport Lawyer about their planned arrival. Airport Lawyer will share this information with teams of volunteer lawyers.
On Feb. 9, 2017, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the federal government’s motion for a stay of an order enjoining implementation of the president’s Executive Order barring certain travel to the United States.
CLINIC continues to monitor and is considering advocacy and litigation strategies to assist refugees and nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen affected by the “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” Executive Order. If your organization is serving an affected individual, CLINIC asks that you share the following information to help inform our strategies:
Catholic Legal Immigration Network asked the Board of Immigration Appeals to reconsider its decision in Matter of W-A-F-C, 6 I&N Dec. 880 (BIA 2016) in a Jan. 17, 2017 motion to reconsider.
This guide is intended to support pro bono attorneys, fully accredited Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Representatives, law students, and paralegals working to prevent the deportation of families who recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum and have been ordered removed in absentia by an Immigration Judge (IJ). The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) at the Urban Justice Center and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
The Board of Immigration Appeals is currently considering the circumstances under which a person may qualify for asylum if they fear persecution on account of their family relationship to another person. CLINIC and Justice for Our Neighbors have offered an amicus brief arguing that family, standing alone, is a ‘particular social group’ as used in asylum law.
How to get a client’s bond money back, once they’ve been released or deported is just one of the questions arising in the cases of families who have had their asylum merits cases scheduled on a fast track.