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Cases and Projects* -- Academic Year 2010-2011

Spring 2011

Kids in Need of Defense
http://www.supportkind.org/home.aspx

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) was founded by the Microsoft Corporation and actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie to create a pro bono movement of law firms, corporate law departments, NGOs and volunteers committed to providing fair, competent and compassionate legal counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children in the U.S.  KIND has an infrastructure of pro bono coordinators that assign, monitor, mentor and coordinate legal representation provided by law firms and corporate legal departments in targeted cities throughout the United States. Their efforts are focused on putting resources to work where unaccompanied children are alone and at-risk.  KIND partners with NGOs with expertise in working with unaccompanied children. It also provides fellowships for attorneys and paralegals at NGOs to dedicate their time and talent to exclusively represent unaccompanied children.

In order to carry out its mission, KIND trains its volunteer attorneys across the United States on substantive law and available remedies as it relates to the representation of unaccompanied children.  To this end, KIND is in the process of drafting a training manual to be included in its training module to be implemented throughout the United States for the benefit of unaccompanied children. One chapter of this manual will focus on “U” and “T” visas, which are remedies under the immigration law available to victims of trafficking and other crimes. Currently, there is a dearth of materials and information for attorneys and advocates representing unaccompanied children who may qualify for such relief. 

On behalf of KIND, students at the Center drafted and developed materials on U and T visas for unaccompanied children for inclusion in KIND’s training manual.  To reach this end, the Center reviewed and researched related legal standards, treatises, and related materials. In addition to discussing the substantive law relating to U and T visas, students at the Center spoke with relevant stakeholders throughout the United States, including government personnel, members of the private bar, NGOS and others, to gather information on cases, best practices and other tips for zealously representing children who are potentially eligible for U and T visas.  


American Immigration Council (formerly American Immigration Law Foundation): http://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/

The Legal Action Center (LAC) works to advance fundamental fairness in U.S. immigration law and to protect the constitutional and legal rights of noncitizens.  In pursuit of its mission, the LAC has established itself as a leader in litigation, information-sharing, and collaboration among immigration litigators across the country.  The LAC works with other immigrants’ rights, civil rights and human rights organizations and immigration attorneys throughout the United States to promote the just and fair administration of our immigration laws and the accountability of immigration agencies. 

The LAC has long advocated for increased access to counsel in immigration proceedings.  The immigration statute explicitly provides that a noncitizen has a right to counsel during deportation (now "removal") proceedings at his own expense, but does not provide noncitizens with government-paid counsel. For this reason, more than 50% of noncitizens facing deportation and nearly 85% of detained noncitizens are forced to navigate the legal process alone.  The number of noncitizens who proceed without counsel or limited access to counsel during green card interviews, at points of inspection, and other contexts outside removal are less quantifiable but arguably greater.  As a result, the LAC believes there is an urgent need to advocate for greater access to counsel in these settings. 

The Center collaborated with LAC to produce a white paper addressing the law, policy and practice surrounding right to counsel in non-removal contexts before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To reach this end, students at the Center reviewed an internal legal memorandum prepared by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and LAC; a detailed memo prepared by the Center analyzing individual attorney experiences with restrictions on access before DHS; and conduct additional research pertaining to access to counsel.  The white paper articulated the legal and policy standards governing an individual’s right to counsel in various non-removal settings in order to provide a framework for understanding the rights of represented individuals as well as the agency culture that continues to limit and deny representation in encounters before DHS.  The white paper illustrated how current DHS practices 1) do not comply with existing law and/or 2) are restrictive interpretations of the law that are not good policy.  The paper also included recommendations to DHS and possibly other federal agencies for improving access to counsel through administrative fixes that may or may not include regulatory fixes and changes to current agency guidance. 


Fall 2010

American Immigration Council (formerly American Immigration Law Foundation): http://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/

The Legal Action Center (LAC) works to advance fundamental fairness in U.S. immigration law and to protect the constitutional and legal rights of noncitizens.  In pursuit of its mission, the LAC has established itself as a leader in litigation, information-sharing, and collaboration among immigration litigators across the country.  The LAC works with other immigrants’ rights, civil rights and human rights organizations and immigration attorneys throughout the United States to promote the just and fair administration of our immigration laws and the accountability of immigration agencies.  

While the immigration statute contains explicit language about a noncitizen's right to counsel during deportation (now "removal") proceedings at his own expense, noncitizens are not provided with government-paid counsel. For this reason, more than 50% of noncitizens facing deportation and nearly 85% of those detained are forced to navigate through the legal process alone.  The numbers of noncitizens who proceed without counsel or limited access to counsel during green card interviews, at points of inspection, and other contexts outside removal are less quantifiable but arguably even more acute because of the underdeveloped case law and legal analysis in this arena. 

On behalf of the LAC, students at the Center prepared an internal memorandum containing legal authority for noncitizens’ right to counsel outside of the deportation (now “removal”) context and a summary of findings based on written intakes and follow-up telephonic interviews with attorneys and advocates within the United States.  To reach this end, the Center reviewed and researched legal standards, practice advisories, and related material provided by the Immigration Council pertaining to access to counsel. Students at the Center conducted follow-up interviews with attorneys and advocates as needed after reviewing initial responses to a questionnaire distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) and the Immigration Council.  The Center also conducted a quantitative analysis of the information provided by aforementioned attorneys and advocates.


Maggio Kattar, LP and Duane Morris: http://www.maggio-kattar.com and http://www.duanemorris.com/practices/immigrationlaw.html

Maggio Kattar and Duane Morris are both leading law firms in immigration law.  Both firms practice in all areas of immigration law, representing individuals, families corporations, non-profits, and universities.  Both are committed to the protection of immigrant rights and advancing the legal opportunities for immigrants to the United States.  Maggio Kattar and the immigration group at Duane Morris take a serious approach to working to develop a more just and humane immigration law.

Every year, thousands of noncitizens with compelling circumstances are deported (removed) from the U.S. because the immigration law provides them with no opportunity to seek relief from deportation.  These cases include individuals who are green card holders (lawful permanent residents) and/or who live with U.S. citizen family members, those who have been gainfully employed inside the U.S., those serving as a primary caretaker or breadwinner for their family, and those who may suffer from a serious medical condition.  In addition to those removed, many never come out of the shadows of the undocumented life due to the unavailability of legal immigration options.  Congress' tightening of the immigration laws in 1996 has created this situation where deserving immigrants cannot get a hearing on the merits of their worth to the U.S. community.  Even well-meaning officials and Immigration Judges are often powerless to help people who they view as meritorious.  For this population, the only options left are to venture beyond traditional forms of relief and to seek extraordinary measures such as a private bill through Congress or to implore the immigration agency to grant deferred action or some other form of prosecutorial discretion. Currently, there is a dearth of materials and information about the process and general eligibility requirements for obtaining such relief.

On behalf of Maggio Kattar and Duane Morris, students at the Center prepared a "Private Bill and Deferred Action Toolkit." This toolkit helped practitioners put together compelling arguments for extraordinary relief and to present to Congress the human dimensions of the immigration laws.  To accomplish this, students reviewed and researched legal standards, practice advisories, and related material pertaining to private bills and deferred action.  Maggio Kattar and Duane Morris collected and analyzed related information from attorneys and advocates.  The Toolkit includes sample documents of the following: 1) checklists for applicants; 2) required forms; 3) letters of support/legal briefs; and 4) resource page with contacts, helpful websites, and other resources. The Center also prepared a brief summary about private bills and deferred action and collect related legal authorities for the toolkit.


Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center: http://www.pirclaw.org

Located less than a mile from York County Prison, the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) has become the leading source of legal services to immigrants detained by DHS in Pennsylvania. York County Prison houses approximately 600-800 detainees on a daily basis. PIRC delivers legal orientation presentations to detainees at York County Prison and Berks Family Shelter, provides individual legal orientations, self-help assistance and referrals, and offers limited direct pro bono representation to the most vulnerable immigrant detainees — including torture survivors and detainees with severe mental or physical disabilities. In providing legal and educational resources to detained populations, PIRC seeks to empower unrepresented immigrants to evaluate and manifest their defenses against deportation from the United States.

After one year of receiving asylum or refugee status, a refugee or asylee may apply to “adjust” to permanent resident (green card) status, but the related law and procedures are complicated at best.  When working with detained clients, even supposedly routine logistical matters like obtaining a medical exam or arranging for post release housing become difficult. The practical resources available to attorneys and advocates handling “refugee adjustment” cases are limited. Moreover, the legal requirement that refugees and asylees wait for one year and undergo a screening process for a second time to obtain a green card has been controversial as a policy matter, as has the government’s practice of imprisoning refugees who do not apply for a green card.

On behalf of PIRC, the Center prepared a toolkit for attorneys and advocates on “refugee adjustment.” To achieve this, the Center reviewed and researched legal standards, practice advisories, and related materials pertaining to “refugee adjustment.” The Center also collected and analyzed related information from attorneys and advocates. The toolkit includes the following: 1) exhibit lists and forms; 2) checklists and guides to local rules and procedures; 3) litigation strategies and legal briefs; and a 4) summary of the legal standards.
 


* Note: Clients have given special permission for information contained in this document to be shared publicly.