EPIC Bond Attorney/Pro Bono Coordinator, Santa Fe Dreamers Project and Immigrant Justice Campaign
In the face of the systemic abuses of the El Paso ICE regional detention and deportation machine, local organizations and nationwide partners convened to fight back and increase justice for immigrants detained in the region. Evaluating each of their capacities and needs, it became clear that secure and thoughtful data sharing and strategic collaboration would serve as a critical
starting point. They founded the El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC). Through coordinated, data-driven services that draw on help from remote volunteers, EPIC aims to change the ecosystem of courts and detention centers to make El Paso a place where people can be released from detention and where meritorious asylum claims can win.
Legal service providers serving 4 prisons and 2 immigration courts in the El Paso region regularly identify individuals eligible for bond and in need representation, but are unable to connect these individuals with local pro bono lawyers fast enough. It takes too long to find and prepare attorneys (who are often brand new to immigration court) on highly compressed timelines for bond hearings. Ultimately, those cases go unrepresented. Local legal service providers have said that having a special team of volunteer lawyers who are already trained, coordinated, and supervised to prepare these motions – and who are ready to do the work on a moment’s notice – could go a long way toward addressing this gap.
Moreover, there is a substantial legal capacity imbalance across the country between major urban areas, where there is a high concentration of lawyers, and smaller cities like El Paso, which has many detention centers, but limited local legal services capacity.
Building a remote team of trained and supervised lawyers and other helpers (interpreters, law students, social workers, etc.) who are connected to each other and to clients through the aid of technology has the potential to exponentially increase the ability of local legal service providers to secure representation for these individuals. Represented cases are far more likely to win – and more representation means more opportunity to hold the government accountable for the due process violations that are endemic to the El Paso immigration system.
The Immigration Justice Campaign, a joint initiative between the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, will draw on models tested for the last 18 months to create a local-national partnership between the Campaign and the Santa Fe Dreamers project. Through this partnership, we will build, train, supervise and deploy a remote team of pro bono lawyers (and other helpers like interpreters, law students, and social workers) to represent detained individuals at their bond hearings by appearing telephonically (rather than in person) before the immigration court.
In order to be effective, the remote team will necessarily rely on work that can only be done at the local level by a partner like the Santa Fe Dreamers Project with direct access to the individuals in detention – work that will require additional capacity to accomplish:
- Engaging in early fact-finding and testing to better understand the actual representation needs and how courts (and ICE) operate in each detention center, in order to build the best systems to meaningfully deploy remote volunteers in this jurisdiction
- Conducting bond-specific individualized intakes, refer cases ready for representation, and coordinate with the Campaign’s volunteer coordinators to ensure case placement
- Supporting cases locally as they progress (for example, obtaining client signatures or affidavits when necessary, or going through bond packets in person with the client in advance of the hearing)
- Trouble-shooting barriers remote teams face in communicating with detained clients
- Serving as an on-the-ground backstop to appear in person before the court if a judge denies a remote pro bono attorney’s motion to appear telephonically
- License to practice law in any US jurisdiction, OR
- Full accreditation by the Department of Justice
- Job is located in El Paso, TX with some travel to Otero County and Sierra Blanca, TX
- Professional fluency in English and Spanish, and cultural competency to serve a majority Latinx clientele
- Ability to work in detention facilities
- Competency to sensitively and effectively serve high-needs clients experiencing trauma, crisis, and instability
- Ability to work respectfully and effectively with partner organizations, and to work collaboratively with other SFDP staff members and EPIC members
- Creativity, sense of humor, ability to manage stress, excellent communication skills, patience, sense of adventure
To apply: Please send your resume and letter of interest in the body of the email to our Director, Allegra Love, at email@example.com. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis but looking to hire the right applicant as soon as possible. Here is a link to the entire job posting.