I am volunteering my legal services, together with Liza her Spanish language skills, to help refugee women and children get out of detention. In general, we will interview detainees to screen their cases, and help them prepare for the first step in the very long asylum application process: their credible fear interviews.
Specifically, we will be joining the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which is a volunteer (pro bono) organization that provides direct legal representation to the women and children incarcerated at the Dilley detention center, who otherwise have almost no access to lawyers. The program works in a weekly cycle where volunteer lawyers, (and in our case her volunteer interpreter) arrive in Dilley on Sunday and work every day, usually 12-15 hours a day, through Friday. Mainly, we will interview and counsel women in preparation for their credible fear interviews. I may also represent women at their credible fear interviews or bond proceedings in front of immigration officials, do initial client intakes, research and draft motions and declarations to support claims, compile bond applications, or whatever other legal help I can provide. At the end of the week, the longer term work will be passed on to another group of volunteers to carry on the following week.
Liza and I are donating our time, and hope that we can raise the money to subsidize the cost of our flights from Maine to San Antonio, a rental car for the week, a shared hotel room at the Best Western, (the only option in Dilley), and our minimal food costs. I am sure we will eat mostly tacos from what I hear is a delicious taco truck outside the facility.
This volunteer project in Dilley was started in 2015 by the 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. With the Trump administrations "zero-tolerance" policy, and Jeff Session's recent narrowing of the eligibility criteria for asylum, refugees need for free legal advice and representation in order to get out of detention, be reunited with family, and in the long, traumatizing and confusing American asylum process is very high right now.
Luckily, there are many lawyers and interpreters, including Liza and I, willing to help. You can read more about the project we are volunteering with at caraprobono.org if you like. I will write a summary of our work at the end so you can hear about who your donation helped. Thanks a million. Every little bit you can pitch in for our trip will sure mean a lot to me.
- Andrea Dove
- Amy Arnett
- Rebecca Leaphart
- Marty Riehs
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