Immigration Justice Campaign is an initiative of American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and American Immigration Representation Project.

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Dispatches from the Campaign

Campaign Dispatch 5/5/2022: A Look Back at April

In April, our network jumped into action on a range of critical and fast-moving issues. Here’s a look at everything we’ve done together over the past month.


The fight against Title 42 continues: Last month, we celebrated the Biden administration’s announcement that they planned to end the border expulsion policy (known as Title 42) by May 23. Under this policy, the official ports of entry are almost entirely closed to asylum seekers.

But now, a Trump-appointed judge has ordered them to temporarily keep the policy in place. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are hearing racist and xenophobic messages that have them scared to stand up against Title 42. Please tell your representatives that you demand an end to this policy.

We visited the tent courts in Laredo, TX: Title 42 isn’t the only Trump-era immigration policy that a judge has ordered the administration to keep. The so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) restarted at the end of last year. This month, we went to Laredo, TX to visit the tent courts where asylum seekers attend their hearings. It wasn’t easy to gain access, even though the hearings are legally required to be open to the public. Read more about the awful things we found there and please help us spread the word so more people can know the reality of this terrible policy.

Volunteer spotlight: Henry Hollithron and Amanda Kernan are two volunteers who faced unexpected situations in serving individuals in detention. Learn more about their stories to get a sense of what Immigration Justice Campaign volunteers experience and how they persevere.

Racism and excessive use of force in a Colorado detention center: Our complaint about anti-Black racism, excessive force, and retaliation at the Denver Contract Detention Facility was picked up by The Colorado Sun. The article highlights the disturbing accounts of two Black men being held at the Aurora, CO detention center.

New Afghan asylum seeker project launched: In April, we officially launched our project providing pro bono representation for Afghan nationals who are seeking asylum following the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan last year.

We’re still trying to shut down the Torrance detention center: We’ve been speaking out about the shameful Torrance detention center for months. And watchdogs from the Department of Homeland Security did their own inspection and told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to relocate everyone they’re holding there. But ICE still refuses, and we heard from our partners that ICE sent at least 90 new people there in April.

Please help us convince elected officials to take action on this issue. Contact your representatives here.

Volunteer of the month: We’re excited to celebrate Judy Kanter as April volunteer of the month for exemplary work providing pro bono services as an interpreter. Congratulations, Judy!

Good news corner 💜: Our volunteers and advocates are keeping up the fight. In April:

  • You sent over 8,000 messages to officials demanding justice for immigrants
  • 32 volunteers took on 49 new matters 
  • We celebrated four parole grants, one bond grant, five positive credible fear interviews, and one successful circuit court appeal 
  • Eight volunteers provided legal orientations to 19 asylum seekers formerly subject to “Remain in Mexico”

We need you in the fight! You can…

As always, email justice@immcouncil.org to get in touch any time. We’d love to help you get more involved in our work.

Campaign Dispatch 4/4/2022: A Look Back at March

So much happened in March – here’s a look at everything we’ve done together as the Immigration Justice Campaign over the past month.

An end to Title 42: On Friday, the Biden administration announced plans to end a border expulsions policy known as Title 42 by May 23. This policy allowed the U.S. government to turn people away at the U.S southern border over 1.7 million times in the past two years under the guise of protecting the country from COVID-19.

Thank you to all those of you who joined our demand asking them to make the right choice and finally end Title 42.

Pressure mounts on the Torrance County Detention Facility: So many of you joined our recent advocacy to secure the release of 73 Haitian asylum seekers from the Torrance County Detention Facility in New Mexico. Now, watchdogs from the Department of Homeland Security have done their own inspection and told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to relocate everyone they’re holding there. On top of that, the Chairs of the House Committee and Subcommittee on Homeland Security sent a letter telling ICE to shut it down.

Meanwhile, ICE made moves to shut down and wind back operations at four other detention centers, conceding that conditions in those facilities were not acceptable. We’re asking them not to transfer people from those detention centers to other terrible facilities – they should be released instead. Join our demand here.

Volunteer spotlight: Juliana Madaki (attorney) and Sylvia Shirk (interpreter) are two of our amazing volunteers. Read about how they came to join the Justice Campaign, and what their work has meant for themselves and others.

New project launched: We’re excited to announce that we continue to expand the scope of our pro bono legal support. In March, we launched a new project to support Afghan evacuees who have been resettled in the United States as part of Operation Allies Welcome.

More than 350 resettlement agencies and community partner organizations have resettled tens of thousands of Afghans into communities across the United States. We’re mobilizing pro bono asylum representation for people being resettled in Atlanta, GA, Denver, CO, and Salt Lake City, UT.

New training video: To support this new Afghan asylum project and others of you who might be working on Afghan asylum cases, we held a training to give you the ins and outs of handling asylum for Afghan nationals. Watch it here, and if you like our training materials, access more of them by making a free account on our website.

Good news corner 💜: Our volunteers and advocates are keeping up the fight. In March:

  • You sent 4,301 messages to elected officials demanding justice for immigrants.
  • 43 volunteers took on 58 new matters.
  • We celebrated bond and parole wins in New Mexico and a merits win in Denver.
  • 14 volunteers completed eight intakes and 13 orientations for our project supporting people who were formerly subject to “Remain in Mexico.”
  • 251 volunteers got trained to support asylum cases for Afghan nationals.

Is today the day you’ll find a new opportunity? Sign up on our website to see current volunteer opportunities. You can also learn more about types of volunteer roles and find ways to advocate for the rights of immigrants in detention.

As always, email justice@immcouncil.org to get in touch any time. We’d love to help you get more involved in our work.

Campaign Dispatch 3/4/2022: A Look Back at February

February was a busy month for the Immigration Justice Campaign, and we’re gearing up for new work launching in the next few weeks. Here are the latest updates from our efforts to end immigration detention and replace it with a humane approach for all.

Fighting anti-Black racism in detentionWe are working on a complaint to be filed with oversight bodies about anti-Black racism in the Denver Contract Detention Facility, a privately-run detention center in Aurora, CO. What’s happening at Aurora is an example of the systemic anti-Black racism in the U.S. immigration system. We’ll keep you updated as the complaint progresses.

Justice Campaign in the news: We recently filed a separate complaint against ICE urging an investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak at the Aurora facility. Read about the complaint in The Colorado Sun and learn how you can take action.

A volunteer’s experience: Alok Kumar is a transactional law attorney and professional opera singer who volunteered to help our partner ABA Immigration Justice Project with a “whirlwind” bond hearing. The Immigration Justice Campaign provided mentorship to support his work alongside a father who had been in detention for almost a year. With support from Alok, the man won release from detention and reunited with his teenage children. Read Alok’s story at the ABA Immigration Justice Project.

We welcome attorneys from all legal backgrounds to volunteer with us. We’ll provide you with the mentorship and training you need to take on immigration work. Find current opportunities on our website, where you can also access a selection of our training resources.

New project launching: In March, we’ll be launching a new project to support Afghan evacuees who have been resettled in the United States as part of Operation Allies Welcome. This will be our second project working with people outside of detention as we expand the scope of our pro bono legal support for immigrants. We are currently seeking law firms to volunteer with this project. We always have a need for individual volunteers to take on other current opportunities on our website.

Good news corner 💜: Our volunteers and advocates are a powerful force for good. In the past month, they:

  • Sent 1,505 messages to their elected officials demanding justice for immigrants
  • Celebrated case successes with six clients
  • Took on 67 new matters
  • Completed eight intakes and nine orientations for our project supporting people who were formerly subject to “Remain in Mexico”

What will next month’s numbers look like? That’s up to you! On our website, you can learn more about types of volunteer opportunities and find ways to advocate for the rights of people in detention.

As always, we’d love your questions and feedback—email justice@immcouncil.org to get in touch. We’ll be happy to help you find a way to fight with us for a fair day in court for all.

Campaign Dispatch 2/4/2022: A Look Back at January

The Immigration Justice Campaign has been off and running in 2022. We’d like to share with you a few updates from our work to end immigration detention.

Read this story from a Justice Campaign volunteer: Volunteer Catherine Flanders wrote an op-ed in Slate. Her client, a man from Haiti, was deported after an unjust credible fear interview process. Read it to learn why the entire system underpinning the credible fear interview is broken, and how it should change.

Advocacy Corner: Even if you can’t volunteer right now, we need you in the fight as an advocate. Here are two good reasons why:

  • You’ll have an impact. In January, we asked our network to help respond to the Biden administration’s call for comments about how to prevent family separation from ever happening again. We wanted to counter the flood of hateful, anti-immigrant responses pouring in. You all jumped into action to submit over 8,700 positive and constructive comments. At the time the comment period closed, that represented 27% of all comments submitted. We can’t thank you enough for taking action on this critical issue.
  • Right now, we need our advocates to respond once again. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to expand its contract with private prison company GEO Group for the Folkston ICE Processing Center in southern Georgia. ICE’s human rights abuses in Georgia are so egregious that they’ve repeatedly made national news. Please sign this petition from local community groups calling for the closure of Folkston. 

Free training: Did you know that we offer free training and mentorship? You don’t need to be an expert in immigration law to take on a case. Here’s a video from our recent webinar on how to corroborate your client’s asylum claim. Register for our next training webinar on February 9 to learn about the implications of the Cuban Adjustment Act for clients formerly subject to “Remain in Mexico.”

Good News Corner 💜: Our volunteers rocked in January! In the past month, they:

  • Won 15 cases, including 10 people who were released from detention.
  • Won two positive CFI results, one merits case, one circuit court case, and one motion to reopen.

And volunteers took on 43 new matters in January—so we look forward to bringing you more good news soon.

What’s next: Together, we’ll keep fighting. Please sign up to volunteer, or jump right in to be an activist with us.

We’d love your questions and feedback—email justice@immcouncil.org to get in touch. We’ll be happy to help you find a way to fight with us for a fair day in court for all.

Campaign Dispatch 7/24/2020: Hope

In these heartbreaking times, it’s rare but precious to hear good news.

Our volunteer community has not stopped fighting side-by-side with men and women who seek release from immigration prisons during the pandemic. This edition of the Campaign Dispatch reminds us all how urgent this work is – and how much of a difference you can make.

Winston* just met his infant son for the first time.
Winston and his pregnant wife fled Cameroon after he was tortured for having participated in a teachers’ union protest. When they finally made it to the U.S., ICE detained Winston in the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, California, while his wife gave birth to their son in Maryland. When Winston met volunteer attorney Ruth, he had been in detention for over a year and had never seen his son. He had recently been transferred from San Diego to a detention center in Houston, Texas. Winston has high blood pressure, and his baby son had been in and out of the ICU with acute asthma. Over the course of their work together, Winston and Ruth brought unflagging energy and dedication to every challenge – including a completely non-responsive ICE office and required payment of a $5,000 bond. Their energy and dedication led to his release, and Winston finally reunited with his wife, whom he hadn’t seen in two years, and his infant son. Many Cameroonian asylum seekers like Winston remain confined in ICE detention during this pandemic and are acutely at risk.

Vihaan* was detained for 524 days before being released.
“Vihaan’s indefatigable spirit fighting for asylum showed me that it is actually our clients who teach us about strength, conviction, and justice,” said volunteer attorney Akash of his client, Vihaan.

Vihaan fled India because the majority political party threatened to kill him and attacked him so seriously that he was hospitalized. Police also threatened him and refused to protect him. The political party has continued to track him since his arrival to the U.S. Vihaan protested his detention in Krome ICE Processing Center in Miami, Florida by participating in a 216-day hunger strike. Vihaan was released on parole after 524 days in detention and is now living with his sponsor.

ICE kept Alvaro* in detention during the pandemic despite his diabetes, but he persevered and won release.
Alvaro had lived in the United States for over two decades when ICE put him into detention. He is at high risk for COVID-19 because he is diabetic. While detained, he experienced unquenchable thirst and blurred vision.

His volunteer attorney, Marcel, reported that ICE and the detention center would not communicate with him regarding Alvaro’s case. But Alvaro and Marcel fought hard, and finally, Alvaro was granted parole and released last month.

At a time when ICE continues to endanger countless lives, your volunteer legal defense is needed now more than ever. Thank you for joining this fight.

Campaign Dispatch 5/22/2020: Inspiring volunteer work amid COVID-19

Welcome to the “Campaign Dispatch.” This new series is designed to keep you informed about the important and inspiring work our volunteer community is doing during a period of great challenge and change.

Even in these trying times, our amazing volunteer community is continuing to come together to defend detained immigrants and help them reunite with friends and family across the country. Thank you!

Here’s what we’ve had to contend with, and how we’re facing those challenges together.

Transfers across the country: ICE continues to transfer detained individuals from one facility to another without warning. Unexpected mass transfers out of the El Paso detention centers in early March to Joe Corley Detention Facility near Houston, Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi, and Folkston Processing Center in Georgia made it difficult for our remote bond project volunteers to locate and communicate with their clients. Some clients have since been released on bond, while others are still being forced to continue fighting their immigration cases in court while remaining confined in dangerous conditions in ICE custody.

Fighting barriers to free and confidential phone calls from immigration detention: This issue became even more urgent once in-person detention visits were no longer safe. In response, the Justice Campaign’s law firm pro bono partner Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe filed a lawsuit challenging these barriers in El Paso.

Advocating for release and holding ICE accountable: With the help of pro bono attorneys and partners, we filed a complaint to oversight agencies on behalf of 17 individuals fighting for release from detention. The complaint documents ICE’s failure to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in detention and protect those in its custody.

Happiness Corner ❤️: Despite these challenges, our volunteers have also celebrated recent successes. Since the pandemic began, our volunteers have helped their clients:

  • Win 13 “merits cases” (or full trials) in immigration court
  • Win release on bond or humanitarian parole for almost 40 individuals

And, volunteers have taken on 180 new matters, including merits, parole, bond, and habeas.
 
Where we work: To meet the overwhelming need for legal representation in this moment, we are now placing cases referred by new local partners, including the Immigration Justice Project in San Diego, ProBAR in the Rio Grande Valley, and Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami.

What’s next: Together, we will keep fighting back through these difficult times. We need your help now more than ever. Please consider representing a client detained in Colorado or New Jersey in their asylum proceedings.

If you haven’t already, please join the hundreds of volunteers who have already reached out to their member of Congress to demand ICE release individuals from its custody to slow the spread of COVID-19. Your voice can make a difference.
 
Watch our new trainings on how to tackle habeas cases and parole cases – all ways to get more individuals out of detention and reunited with their loved ones.

You can also support the fight for a fair day in court by making a gift to the Campaign.

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