Ed. note: Today is my friend Tom Vick’s last day as president of the State Bar of Texas, and he began it with a message to all Texas attorneys about events on the border that I wanted to reproduce in full.
I am writing with a quick update on the recent events occurring on our southern border. Although the Trump administration signed an executive order to end family separations, the need for volunteer attorneys remains strong—particularly Spanish-speaking immigration lawyers.
Whenever we have had manmade or natural disasters in this state, Texas lawyers have risen to the occasion to help those who cannot help themselves. I have found the only impediment is not knowing how to help. Below are resources for you to get involved and make a difference.
On Monday, the Austin Bar Association will offer training on how to help families separated at the border. The in-person CLE session titled Responding to Zero-Tolerance: Credible Fear and Immigration Bond Hearing Training is sold out, but the Austin Bar will live-stream the training on Periscope for all who wish to watch and learn more. For more details on how to download Periscope and watch, click here.
The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)—a joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association—is requesting volunteers who are fluent in Spanish and have some background in immigration law. For more information, go here.
Catholic Charities is seeking attorneys able to provide direct representation for children’s immigration cases and is also accepting donations including books, toys, supplies, and other items, for detained children. To express a desire to provide representation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Gateways has reported that it could use attorneys immediately to help with limited representation for Credible Fear Interviews and Reasonable Fear Interviews, and help preparing for bond hearings. You can sign up to volunteerhere.
This news story contains a list of legal and humanitarian organizations that are mobilizing to help immigrant children and families. And the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative has this page on how to help. Many of the organizations listed on both of these pages are seeking volunteers or donations.
Assuring equal access to justice and supporting the administration of the legal system are essential parts of our State Bar’s mission. We will continue to identify and provide resources to lawyers and the public to aid in responding to this situation.
President, State Bar of Texas