One year of CARA Pro Bono Project, thousands helped | CLINIC

One year of CARA Pro Bono Project, thousands helped

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“Women have suffered through so much but still smile. If you show them love, they show it back.”

Volunteer, CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project


Spring 2016 marked the one-year anniversary of the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project with some impressive data to add a bit of hope to the still steady flow of immigrants across the border.

The project’s one-year statistics paint a powerful picture of the work being done by volunteers and the limited formal staff at CARA.

As the U.S. enters its third summer in which unusually high numbers of Central American families are crossing the border in search of safety, here are some stats that show how CARA has made a difference:

  • More than 8,000 families received help from a CARA volunteer attorney in starting the process of seeking asylum.
  • Of the families seen by CARA volunteers at the South Texas Family Detention Center at Dilley, Texas, 99 percent were released to their loved ones, while their cases work through the asylum process.
  • More than 700 lawyers, paralegals, translators, clergy, teachers, nurses and social workers volunteered their time at Dilley.

The project was born in response to a growing humanitarian crisis that erupted in 2014.

Amid a dramatic increase in the number of women and children arriving at the border from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement began putting families into detention centers located far from their U.S.-based families and far from towns where they might find lawyers to help.

In a little more than a year, hundreds of volunteers – attorneys, translators, teachers, social workers, medical professionals and others – have helped thousands of families begin the process of seeking asylum. The CARA staff and volunteers have also formally challenged the conditions at the detention centers, from inadequate medical care to coercion and lack of appropriate language services.

In addition, CARA staff and volunteers taught thousands of women about their legal rights and obligations, empowering them to advocate on their own behalf. In collaboration with the sponsoring organizations, CARA kept up public pressure against family detention. Regular news coverage about the families and events such as an Easter Monday prayer rally at the White House helped ensure the families in detention are not forgotten.

Volunteers are always needed to continue CARA’s work. To learn more, to find out how to donate or to make arrangements to volunteer, visit


CARA is a joint project of CLINIC, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.