South Texas

BLAST-South Texas students will be selected to one of two South Texas trips.

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)

BLAST-South Texas will send a group of students to South Texas to work with ProBAR, an organization that provides legal information, pro se assistance and pro bono representation to thousands of immigrants and asylum-seekers detained in remote South Texas.

Every year, thousands of people are detained by the Department of Homeland Security in South Texas. The children primarily come from Central America, while the adults come from many different countries around the world. Many of them travel to the United States seeking protection from violence and persecution in their home countries. Having language barriers, little understanding of U.S. law and court procedures, and limited financial resources, they face tremendous obstacles to winning immigration relief. ProBAR serves detained adults and unaccompanied children. Services include group legal orientations, pro se assistance, pro bono referrals, and direct representation.

The work law students will have the opportunity to engage in includes; completing client intakes at the detention facility, completing asylum applications, conducting country conditions research, and preparing clients for their interviews.

Time Commitment: Students should be available to travel to South Texas on the weekends prior and subsequent to Spring Break. In addition to the entirety of Spring Break 2020, we anticipate that trip participants will have monthly trainings / meetings with some social events throughout the school year. Trainings will likely be once a month in the 12:45-2:00 lunch slot or in the evenings. The training topics may include asylum law, handling secondary trauma, and working with interpreters.

Karnes

As immigrants continue to flee for their lives to the United States, many individuals are asking how they can help. In response, RAICES has organized the Karnes Pro-Bono Project, a program designed to provide free legal services to families detained in Karnes County Residential Center.

The immigrants detained are forced to undergo an interview formally known as the Credible Fear Interview (CFI) or Reasonable Fear Interview (RFI) to determine eligibility of release while seeking asylum – or other forms of relief. Negative results from the CFI or RFI can lead to deportation. Deported migrants are put at a heightened risk of violence and danger.

Karnes is currently housing single adult women asylum-seekers. To ensure these asylum-seekers have access to legal representation, participants will travel to Karnes during Spring Break. Participants commit to a Monday through Thursday work schedule from 9:00am to 8:00pm, with a potential Friday work day depending on need for that week. There will be five mandatory training modules sent out one month before the trip that must be completed by all participants, and an on-the-ground training session taking place on Monday morning at 9:00am. Currently, the work includes completing client intakes, conducting country conditions research, preparing clients for credible fear and reasonable fear interviews with the asylum office, accompanying clients to their asylum office interviews, and providing representation before the Immigration Judge in negative credible fear reviews and bond hearings. All participants must be Spanish-speakers.

Time Commitment: Fall 2019 Semester: 10 hours of training before the trip; Spring 2020 Semester: 10 hours of training before the trip and ~45-50 hours during Spring Break. Students should also be available to travel to South Texas on the weekends prior and subsequent to Spring Break. Before the trip, participants attend a series of training sessions in the fall and spring semesters to learn more about asylum law and immigration law. Meeting times would depend on participants’ schedules but would likely take place during the lunch hour (12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.).

For more information, please contact the student leaders at blast.southtexas@berkeley.edu.