About The CARA Project
Open your mouth to speak on behalf of those in need. Proverbs 31:8-9.
When CLINIC learned about the expansion of family detention into a permanent facility in Dilley, Texas with a capacity of 2,400 following the closure of the temporary facility in Artesia, New Mexico, we had to open our mouths to speak on behalf of those women and children in need of refuge from the violence they fled.
Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17.
But it was not enough for us to just speak on behalf of these women and children in need. We were compelled to seek justice for them. Justice in a desolate town located an hour and fifteen minutes away from the nearest legal resources in San Antonio, Texas. Justice in an immigration system that studies prove one’s chances of winning asylum increase exponentially if represented by legal counsel. Thus the CARA Project, a partnership among CLINIC, AILA, RAICES, and American Immigration Council, was born allowing us to maximize our resources with the goal of providing pro bono representation to the women and children and ending this flawed policy.
Seek the welfare of the city, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:4-7.
The moral obligation to actively seek justice for these women and children is one that CLINIC feels very strongly. Aside from this moral obligation, CLINIC also knows that the welfare of these women and children is directly connected to our welfare and humanity. We have a duty and responsibility to defend the most vulnerable among us and by protecting them we better protect our families, one another, and our society at large.
A Brief Video About CARA
To get a better understanding of what CARA is, check out this short video presented by Michele Mendez, Staff Atorney at CLINIC.
What's Going On?
About Family Detention
How Can I Help?
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, collectively known as CARA, have joined forces in response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) significant expansion of its family detention capacity at the Southern Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) and the Karnes Residential Center. Volunteers travel to Dilley, Texas every week from Sunday-Friday with a mandatory on the ground orientation on Sunday afternoon and the first working day at the facility starting on Monday.
Our goal is to have at least 15 volunteers each week in Dilley, Texas. Volunteers who cannot make a one week commitment or cannot arrive on Sunday are welcome to volunteer in Karnes City, Texas. RAICES, our local partner, works directly with the volunteers who are based in San Antonio and travel to and from Karnes City on a daily basis. RAICES works with Akin Gump, University of Texas School of Law, and Tahirih Justice Center in Houston in a traditional pro bono model.
What will I be doing as a volunteer, you may ask?
If you choose to become a CARA volunteer, this video provides a great synopsis of the work you'll be doing:
- Credible Fear Interview and Reasonable Fear Interview preparation
- Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear Interview observations
- Immigration Judge review of the Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear determinations
- Full intakes post-positive Credible Fear or Reasonable Fear determinations
- Bond hearing preparation and bond hearing representation before the Immigration Judge.
Do I have to be an attorney to volunteer?
No, you don’t have to be an attorney to volunteer. You only have to be an attorney for the procedures before the Immigration Judge. If you speak Spanish and are not an attorney, you will be invaluable. If you don't speak Spanish or know immigration law, your presence is still needed, but we need to organize you with a group for which Spanish fluency is not lacking. This is an invaluable opportunity for anyone working with the immigrant community as you will learn first hand how to effectuate an ethical and competent emergency response plan serving a large number of people within a limited time. Few experiences get more in the trenches than this opportunity.
What if I know nothing about immigration law
and the particular issues faced by the women and children?
Before each group leaves for Texas we hold an pre-orientation call and send out an electronic orientation packet to ensure everyone has all the information they need. We have a ton of free training materials on our Practice Resources Page, which includes a podcast, Preparing for Credible Fear Interviews, that gives an overview of the credible fear process. Once you arrive,the Sunday afternoon orientation will focus on the specific procedural and substantive issues of the project. Thereafter, the two on the ground staff, an attorney and a coordinator, will be there with you every step of the way to orient you, strategize, and answer any questions you may have. The attorney, Brian, has years of immigration experience and previously volunteered in Artesia, NM and in Dilley, TX before accepting the position so he is more than equipped to provide guidance.
Where am I going exactly?
Here is a map of important CARA Project locations that offers perspective on the distance of Dilley and Karnes City from San Antonio and the Mexican border. You will see that the facilities are very isolated from legal services providers in San Antonio, TX. The Southern Texas Family Residential Center is the newest and biggest detention center for women and children with a capacity of 2,400. It is located an hour and 15 minutes southwest of San Antonio. The Karnes Detention facility, an hour southeast of San Antonio, was originally designed for general ICE detention. However, since August of 2014 the Karnes facility has been operating as a family detention center. On any given day there are at least 400 families residing there, with expansion underway to increase capacity to 1100 individuals.
What are the related costs to volunteering with the CARA Project?
Approximate costs for the trip run anywhere from $500 if sharing lodging and car rental to approximately $1,000. Costs include airfare to and from San Antonio (closest airport), hotel room, car rental, gas and food. As for accommodations, we have secured a corporate rate at the Days Inn in Dilley for $69/night for a double room. As the above map shows, the Days Inn is located just a 5 minute drive from the STFRC. It was also recently remodeled so it is a very nice space that comes with on-site laundry, a small gym, and free daily continental breakfast.