Berkeley Immigration Group: Detention Project

The Berkeley Immigration Group Detention Project (BIG) seeks to bridge the representation gap for the approximately 300 non-citizens held in immigration detention in Richmond, California. We also endeavor to hold the San Francisco Immigration Court accountable in providing due process rights to non-citizens in detained proceedings before the court. Participants will gain a familiarity with immigration detention and substantive immigration law under the supervision of attorneys from Centro Legal de la Raza.

BIG has five components: detention outreach, court observation, Know Your Rights Trainings, bond representation, and the creation of a community bond fund.

Detention Outreach: With detention outreach, participants work with an attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza to provide biweekly immigration legal intakes to detained non-citizens. This task involves legal intake and issue spotting skills, as well as working with survivors of trauma. Because of facility clearance requirements, we restrict detention outreach to persons with a U.S. social security number and driver’s license. This project is geared toward 1Ls and LLM students. To participate, you must complete the Contra Costa County Detention Facility Clearance Request forms . The SLPS Application provides instructions for how to submit these forms.

Court Observation: For court observation, students will attend detained bond and merits hearings before the San Francisco Immigration Court. They will fill out pre-prepared forms documenting behavior of court and government counsel, availability of representation, and other due process issues with immigration proceedings. All students are welcome.

Creating/Maintaining a Community Bond Fund: As immigrants sit in detention awaiting their removal hearing, they may lose their job, housing, or even custody of their children. For this reason, we are creating a community fund to help pay bond for detained noncitizens. We are seeking limited number of students (3-5 per semester) to help with this process. This work involves organizing and collaboration with our community partners, alumni, and other student groups in order to fundraise, help decide who gets the funds, and figure out how to house the funds.

Know Your Rights Trainings: For the Know Your Rights Trainings, law students partner with members of R.I.S.E., an undergraduate group at UC Berkeley. Together, they will conduct immigrants’ rights trainings at schools and other community spaces throughout the Bay Area. The goal is to empower community members to identify and resist the questionable enforcement tactics of ICE and CBP. All students are welcome.

Bond RepresentationBased on supervisor capacity, a limited number of students (3-5 per semester) will have the opportunity to do bond representation for non-citizens in custody and bond proceedings before the San Francisco Immigration Court. This task involves legal research and writing to prepare the bond motion, as well as trial advocacy skills in preparing client testimony and letters of support.

For all components of BIG, we will ask students to attend a biweekly debriefing that will occur the evening after Monday outreach. At this debriefing, we will go over court observation and outreach experiences, as well as write letters to detainees indicating whether Centro Legal de la Raza will be able to assist them in their case.  Also, we are open to creating more projects depending on the interest of the students, including a community advocacy project currently in the works.

Supervision: Students in BIG will receive training and be supervised by attorneys at Centro Legal de la Raza

Time Commitment:

Detention Outreach: Detention Outreach occurs every other Monday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. (3.5 hours). We ask that students commit to at least two outreaches (7 hours) per semester.

Court Observation: Court observation can take place almost any day of the week. Schedules will depend on which judges we decide to observe. Interested students will be asked to commit to at least two half-day observations (8 hours) per semester.

Bond Representation: An individual bond representation requires approximately 10-15 hours of work gathering supporting documents and preparing for the hearing.

Know Your Rights Trainings: Trainings can take place almost any day of the week. Schedules depend upon our community partners’ availability. We ask that interested students commit to at least two trainings (5-6 hours total) per semester.

Debriefing:  One hour every other week (evening time). Meeting day TBD.

Training: Approximately 3-4 hours total.

Spanish speaking is a plus for any of these projects.

For more information, please contact the student leaders at

How To Apply