Author: Guest Blogger

Access to Counsel Should be Non-Negotiable

“Wait, you mean to tell me you are not allowed to contact a lawyer at the airport?” That is a familiar response when I tell people of the lack of any protocol for allowing access to counsel to those who are coming into the United States from abroad. The fact is, when someone enters the country, whether a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, valid visa holder, or visitor without a visa, the decision to permit that person to contact their attorney for assistance or advice when problems arise is completely up to the officer’s discretion under current procedures. Most people...

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Fair Treatment Under the Law

Indiana’s highest court handed down a unanimous ruling earlier this month protecting the rights of injured unauthorized immigrants to seek recovery of lost wages and decreased earning capacity and importantly, making their undocumented status inadmissible at trial in most cases. I represented the Indiana Chapter of AILA and appeared and briefed the case as amicus. (Noe Escamilla v. Shiel Sexton Company, Inc., Indiana Supreme Court No. 54S01-1610-CT-546, decided May 4, 2017.) The plaintiff, Noe Escamilla, is an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the United States by his parents while he was a teenager.  Escamilla had lived and worked...

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MAVNI: A Successful Program Currently SNAFUed

Imagine you are a Polish- or Punjabi-speaking graduate of a United States school and you volunteered to join the U.S. Armed Forces, ready to serve this country and America’s interests. Your recruiter told you about the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) Pilot Program which allows certain lawful non-immigrants possessing critical health care specialty credentials, or language and cultural skills, vital to the national interest to join the Armed Forces. You’re promised that once you begin serving on active duty, or drilling in a reserve unit, you will become eligible for expedited naturalization. You’re ready, and you’re joined...

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Despite the Odds

On a Sunday in February 2016, I was at the San Francisco airport ready to travel to the family detention center in Dilley, Texas, to meet with my new pro bono clients, Marta and her two young sons. Moments after I arrived at SFO, I received word that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was transferring them to a detention center in Pennsylvania; they would be gone by the time my plane landed in Texas. I had notified ICE two days earlier of my representation and travel plans but the family was abruptly whisked across the country over the weekend....

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The Courage of Mothers in Family Detention

Over the past two years, hundreds of volunteers have given up a week or more of their lives to help nearly 30,000 mothers and more than 33,000 children detained by the federal government as they seek asylum as our laws allow. Pro bono attorneys, joined by translators and legal assistants, help them prepare to make their case for protection under U.S. laws. We asked our volunteers to recall the mother who they met in detention whose story stayed with them most powerfully. Here are a few of their stories. Below this post is information on how you can get...

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