Spring Break Pro Bono Caravans
Dilley, Texas: Immigrant Detention Center (co-sponsored with EWOC)
Students on this caravan worked with the CARA Pro Bono Project to represent immigrant and refugee mothers and their children at the largest family detention center in the United States. Students prepped clients for their Credible Fear Interviews and had the opportunity to represent clients at their bond hearings, as well as prepare bond packets for detained clients. Additionally, students attended debriefing meetings with CARA staff and other volunteers
Immigration and Civil Rights in El Paso, Texas
Students on this caravan worked on immigration and civil rights issues in El Paso, Texas. We partnered with two local civil rights organizations, Las Americas Immigration Advocacy Center and Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project, to provide direct legal services and conduct research projects on novel issues. Students also took a tour of the U.S.-Mexican border and observed immigration court proceedings in town.
International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) in Amman, Jordan
Students traveled to Amman, Jordan to provide direct legal assistance to Iraqi and Syrian refugees with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). Students learned how to interview victims of torture and conducted client intakes with vulnerable refugees referred to IRAP by partner NGOs, as well as meeting with existing Columbia clients. Students also attended outreach meetings with local NGOs to learn more about the situation facing refugees on the ground in the Middle East.
NYLAG Immigration Law Caravan in NYC
Students worked with attorneys in NYLAG’s community-based immigration clinics to conduct legal screenings or provide specific application assistance. Students participated in a variety of clinics that either provide general legal immigration screenings to help individuals to determine eligibility for various forms of immigration relief, including family based petitions, deferred action, T- and U-visas, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and asylum, or provide specific application assistance for some immigration benefits, like Naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Temporary Protected Status.
2018 New Caravans
Immigrant Family Detention: Berks, PA
Students will work with ALDEA to fight for the rights of asylum-seeking families in extended detention in Berks, PA. Currently the population there includes many fathers with their children, in addition to some families who have notoriously been detained for as long as two years. Students will help prepare new arrivals for their Credible Fear Interviews before an Asylum Officer and will also have opportunities to assist ALDEA attorneys with impact litigation work regarding long-term immigrant detention. Berks is the oldest and smallest of three family detention centers in the U.S.
Immigrant Family Detention: Karnes, TX
Students will work with attorneys at RAICES to represent asylum-seeking mothers and their children at the second largest family detention center in the U.S. in Karnes City, Texas. Students will take a trauma-based approach in assisting with the weekend clinic, where they will interview women before or after their Credible Fear Interviews. Students may also assist in drafting advocacy declarations with the policy director about the conditions at Karnes Detention Center and at the border. Students will also have the opportunity to work with RAICES attorneys on important immigrants' rights projects such as their Humanitarian Parole Project, their Unaccompanied Minors Project, or their U-Visa project.
Procedural Asylum Assistance: Messina, Italy
Students will work with law professors and local NGOs in Messina, Italy, to help improve the asylum procedures through which refugees arriving from North Africa are being processed in Sicily and nearby islands. Students will research EU asylum law and African country conditions in order to prepare Know Your Rights materials for the refugees, most of whom speak English. Students may also assist with preparing guidance documents for government officials and "guardians" of unaccompanied refugee minors, and may have the chance to assist local lawyers with appeals.
In the fall semester, SJI sends out a general application for all sponsored spring break pro bono caravans. Students interested in participating in a SIRR-sponsored caravan should apply through the general SJI form. Depending on the caravan, prior involvement in relevant SIRR activities may be a helpful in the application process.
For more information, please contact Ruth O'Herron (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jessica Heymach (email@example.com).