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Just Thoughts is the blog of the Empire Justice Center, New York’s statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live. Here staff and guest authors will share stories, announcements and perspectives on timely issues related to our work.    

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Empire Justice attorney provides pro bono assistance out of Texas detention facility

Issue Area: Immigrant Rights

Dilley, TX

Empire Justice staff attorney Amanda Doroshow will be working out of an immigration detention center in Dilley, TX this week, as a volunteer attorney with the CARA Project. She is joined by 20 other advocates and attorneys from across the country helping to get families—mostly women and children—released from detention. Most of the families are seeking asylum and fleeing extreme violence.

Just this August, a U.S. District Judge issued an order limiting the length of detention of families and issuing guidelines about the living conditions of detention centers.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are not fully meeting with these standards and continue this inhumane practice of detaining women and children for extended periods of time.

Representation is important to these crucial cases. Nearly half of all minors represented by lawyers in immigration court in the past decade eventually won permission to remain. But nine out of 10 without legal representation were sent back to their home countries. And there continues to be a dire need for legal representation in the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), the detention center where Amanda will be volunteering her time representing women and children in the motions for bond and immigration proceedings.

As the daughter of a Cuban immigrant, Amanda says she has always been very passionate about this work. Her mother came from Cuba at the age of 13 by herself.

“This country is built on immigrants. I think it is very brave to leave everything you know and come to a country you don’t know, many times leaving everything behind,” Amanda said.

“Many of the families detained are in desperate situations facing persecution. Their only option is to make a very dangerous journey to the United States. I feel like these people should be treated with dignity and respect after enduring such trauma. They should have a fair opportunity to fight their case and should be met with support and compassion.”

CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project is a collective created by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and American Immigration Lawyers Association. These organizations joined together in response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s expanding practice of detaining families.

Follow updates from Amanda's pro bono experience on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tags: immigration