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Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07041914 (posted Apr. 19, 2007)"

How the Project Works

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project is a partnership of the Executive Office for Immigration Review and five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including AILA and the American Immigration Law Foundation. The Project works to increase the level of pro bono representation to immigrants who are without representation before the BIA. The Project's priority is to assist detained, pro se individuals with cases before the BIA. In FY 2006, 3,434 detained immigrants had cases on appeal before the BIA. Forty-one percent of these immigrants did not have representation. They include long-time lawful permanent residents, asylum-seekers, and minors. The Project also assists non-detained, indigent, pro se individuals with cases before the BIA.

Statistics show that represented persons are more likely to succeed in their claims to relief from removal than pro se individuals. Detention hinders an individual's ability to obtain representation. While some immigrants in DHS detention try to represent themselves, few detention centers stock their libraries with immigration materials. Even if such materials are available, few individuals without legal training can master the complex legal procedures and standards that apply to their cases, especially at the appellate level.

To increase the level of legal representation to this population, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) coordinates the BIA Pro Bono Project. The Project is supported by the following NGO partners: AILA, the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition.

The Project concentrates on finding representation for four types of immigrants: (1) asylum-seekers, (2) minors, (3) individuals who received a favorable decision by an Immigration Judge that was subsequently appealed by the government, and (4) individuals with cases where the IJ requested certification of his/her decision from the BIA. All cases involve immigrants who were not represented before the IJ, and who remain pro se before the BIA.

How To Take Action

The Projects seeks volunteers to serve as case screeners, mentors and brief writers, as well as individuals willing to provide direct representation for cases that are remanded from the BIA to the Immigration Court.

To volunteer with the BIA Pro Bono Project, please contact Carol Pelton or visit the Pro Bono Project's website. You can also find more information at the EOIR Pro Bono Program website.