Detention Outreach Project Celebration

Fifty volunteers from the Detention Outreach Project (DOP) were recognized by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) on August 13th for their work screening ICE detainees brought to the Capital Region last month. DOP successfully screened 300 asylum-seekers from 38 countries, who were uprooted from the southern border in the largest known transfer of individuals from the border into a single facility.

NYSBA President Michael Miller thanked the volunteers for all the work they’ve done and reminded those in attendance that, “America is not just a place on a map, rather it is a set of ideals, based upon the rule of law.”

“You have blown me away by all that you’re doing,” Associate Judge Leslie E. Stein of the New York State Court of Appeals told the volunteers. “Access to justice is the touchstone of our judicial system and without it our system of laws would be meaningless. Without people like you, access to justice would be no more than an ideal.”

Working with the support of Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and his staff, volunteer lawyers, paralegals and interpreters from all over the state traveled to the Albany County Jail to screen detainees individually and, when appropriate, prepare them for their credible fear interviews, which are part of the process for applying for asylum. The Legal Project, an Albany based not-for-profit, has been instrumental in providing community support, volunteer recruiting, and fundraising.

Camille Mackler, Co-Chair of NYSBA’s Committee on Immigration Representation and Director of Immigration Legal Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, noted that of the number of people who have had their credible fear interviews, approximately 80% have passed them.

“We have provided an enormous amount of legal assistance with the help of Sheriff Apple and his staff, but our work is far from done,” said Sarah Rogerson, co-chair of NYSBA’s Committee on Immigration Representation and director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Albany Law School. “With such a deep well of willing attorney volunteers, I am confident that we will continue to restore due process where the Trump Administration has sought to take it away.”

As the crisis continues, DOP volunteers are preparing to continue to assist more clients with preparation for credible fear interviews, and to assess broader issues including conditions of transfer, attempts by the federal government to infringe upon due process, and unfounded allegations and misapplication of law by immigration agencies. DOP volunteers will also follow-up on individual issues requiring immediate attention and when possible, connect individual clients to legal representation for the remainder of their cases.

View photos from the reception here.

Created with flickr slideshow.