This year's volunteers were Aura Guerrero, Bhaavya Sinha, Jesus Rodriguez, Kayla Kaufman, Lauren Iosue, Oscar Barron-Guerra, Simone Edwards, Sonia Geba, Talitha Lopes Caldeira, and Valentina Gonzalez Blanco. The project was organized by student leaders Erin Griffard and Lauren Hodges and faculty advisor Professor Andrew Schoenholtz.
Detained Families Seeking Asylum
In response to the Trump administration’s separation of migrant families near the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018, the Human Rights Institute organized volunteer service trips to assist asylum-seeking families. When these families fleeing serious violence arrive in the United States and express a fear of return to their home countries, they are required under U.S. law to have an opportunity to seek asylum. The Department of Homeland Security has detained such asylum seekers in jails upon their arrival. Being incarcerated makes the asylum process particularly difficult; the skills of lawyers and law students are needed to provide assistance.
The first volunteer trip involved twelve law students, including first years, as well as one fellow and one faculty member over a Winter Break week in 2018-19 at the largest immigrant family detention center in the country: the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas (approximately 80 minutes southwest of San Antonio). Since then, Georgetown Law students have regularly volunteered over Spring and Winter breaks to assist these detained asylum seekers. Generous gifts from alumni April and John Delaney as well as Sam Lambroza, and a gift from the John and Kathleen Schreiber Foundation have funded this service project.
Over spring break, 12 Georgetown Law students and staff participated in a remote pro bono project with asylum seekers detained near the U.S.-Mexico border in Dilley, Texas. Working with staff attorneys from Proyecto Dilley, Georgetown volunteers prepared parole requests in order to help detained women, most of whom fled Cuba and Nicaragua, pursue their cases outside of detention, where they can secure counsel and reunite with family and friends. Volunteers spent their spring breaks conducting phone interviews with clients, contacting sponsors, and compiling arguments and evidence demonstrating clients’ eligibility for release. Many of the clients supported this week had significant medical needs that put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in detention, making this work even more critical. Volunteers ultimately prepared 18 requests, and we have since learned that some of the individuals we worked with will be released.