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Pro Bono Work in Texas

June 03, 2015

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A full brigade of ten Lewis & Clark students traveled to Dilley, Texas during the week of May 9 to volunteer with the CARA Pro Bono Project at an immigration detention center run by a private prison company where immigration officials recently began holding hundreds of Central American women and children. Professor Juliet Stumpf accompanied them on the trip, and Professor Stephen Manning provided training and remote guidance as the law students interviewed the mothers, prepared them for interviews with asylum officers to determine whether the clients had a significant possibility of establishing an asylum claim, and steered the clients through the byzantine procedural maze of seeking release on bond pending the asylum hearing.  

Clients told the Lewis & Clark team about fleeing from threats that gang members made against the mothers and their children, about endemic domestic violence that government officials could not or would not address, and about their experience with U.S. immigration officials who separated mothers from children and herded them into “iceboxes” – freezing, crowded cells with no blankets or furniture – and then “doghouses” – chainlink cages – before singling out the mothers and children for detention at the privately-run center.  Due in large part to the work of lawyer and law student brigades like ours, more than 80% of the mothers at the detention center have established a credible fear of persecution if they were returned to their home countries, which is a major step toward a grant of asylum.  Nevertheless, the U.S. government continues to detain them, despite mounting calls for an end to family detention from 136 members of Congress, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the New York Times Editorial Board, and a host of others.    

The Lewis & Clark Law Student Brigade was composed of Liz Crespo, Isabella Fernández, Shannon Garcia, Edward Jewell, Rodrigo Juárez, George MacDonald, Samantha MacBeth, Juliann Peebles, Jamie Trinkle, and Michael Reyes. The Innovation Law Lab, National Lawyers Guild, Lewis & Clark Law School, Meg Garvin of NCVLI, and countless friends and family provided financial and moral support.    

This was the second trip to the detention center by L&C law students. Here is the story on the first trip in April 2015. 

All the press coverage, Congressional actions, and Administration policies on family detention are posted here.

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