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.

The Detention Project has three components: detention outreach, court observation, and bond representation.

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 BIG 2017 Clearance Application. 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.

Bond Representation: Based on supervisor capacity, a limited number of students (3-5 per semester) will also 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. This work is most appropriate for 2Ls, 3Ls and LLM students.

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 will be able to assist them in their case.

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. 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.

Debriefing: Every other Monday evening.

Training: Approximately 3-4 hours total.

For more information, please contact the student leaders at

How To Apply