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Pro Bono Project A Success

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Feb 27, 2014


Contact: Maura Moser, Director of Communications

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WASHINGTON , D.C., February 27, 2014 -- A report released today by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)/Department of Justice finds that immigrants who are appealing their deportation orders and are matched with counsel through the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project are three times more likely to have a successful outcome than immigrants without representation.


The report, “A Ten Year Review of the BIA Pro Bono Project: 2002-2011,” analyzes the impact of the BIA Pro Bono Project, run by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). The BIA Pro Bono Project matches unrepresented immigrants with pro bono attorneys and law students to represent them in appeals of immigration judge decisions.


“The BIA Pro Bono Project serves particularly vulnerable immigrants who would not otherwise have legal representation.  Over half are seeking relief from persecution and torture, and the majority are being held in detention while awaiting decisions on their cases,” said Jeanne M. Atkinson, Executive Director of CLINIC. “The findings of this report underline the critical difference legal counsel can make in case outcomes.”


The following were among the report’s findings:

  • Since 2009, immigrants selected for the Project were matched with free counsel 97% of the time.
  • Cases are selected prioritizing immigrants held in detention and otherwise particularly vulnerable. During the report period 90% of Project clients were detained. The majority of the cases involved an appeal filed by the government, contesting the immigration judge’s initial decision in favor of the immigrant.


The BIA Pro Bono Project has led to precedent-setting cases, the most recent of which set national policy regarding safeguards for disabled noncitizens in Matter of M-A-M and Matter of E-S-I, both represented by Project volunteers.


The BIA Pro Bono Project was founded in 2001 by EOIR and CLINIC, in collaboration with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Immigration Law Foundation (now the American Immigration Council), Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.


CLINIC is the nation’s largest network of nonprofit immigration programs. It supports more than 240 legal immigration programs located in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It advocates for humane and just immigration policy.


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