chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

Defend Asylum Together! Essentials of Immigration Law for Effective Pro Bono Representation

Did you know that most migrants seeking humanitarian protection in our immigration court system are unrepresented? This crisis is especially acute for migrants who are detained, and all migrants are much more likely to win relief if they are represented. The American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, together with the Children's Immigration Law Academy (CILA), Immigration Justice Project (IJP), and South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) are hosting their first continuing legal education (CLE) training for volunteer attorneys. This free, virtual CLE course seeks to recruit, train and empower volunteer attorneys to defend migrants and asylum seekers as part of their pro bono practice in 2021 and beyond. The training will leverage on-the-ground experts from inside and outside the ABA to train new or beginner pro bono attorneys in removal defense, with a focus on asylum, for detained adults and unaccompanied children. Promote the core ABA values of due process and access to counsel by arming yourself with the knowledge and skills you need to represent vulnerable asylum seekers and defend rule of law.

Access Day 1 and Day 2 On-Demand for Free CLE credit here:

Non-CLE Keynote speaker: ABA President Trish Refo followed by Meredith Linsky, Introduction and the Transformative Effect of Pro Bono Representation 1:00-1:20 pm EST

Session 1 — Beside the Golden Door: Defending Asylum Seekers in Immigration Court, from CFI to the BIA (and back)

1:30—3:00 pm EST, January 25, 2021

This session, led by Lauren Cusitello of the ABA Immigration Justice Project, will introduce the concept of "defensive asylum," the presentation and support of an asylum application on behalf of a client who is in removal proceedings.

Areas of focus will include: how an asylum seeker ends up before an immigration judge; the anatomy of a removal case, with a spotlight on asylum-specific rules and procedures; the definition of "refugee" that governs asylum and other forms of protection; the role of different types of evidence to prove your case; and legal challenges before the immigration judge.

Speakers: Lauren Cusitello, Immigration Justice Project Legal Director, Fermin Vargas Jr., Immigration Justice Project Senior Staff Attorney

Session 2 — The Current Asylum Landscape One Week into the Biden Administration: Opportunities and Challenges

3:20—4:20 pm EST, January 25, 2021

Have you heard about changes in asylum law in the last few years but don't know how they could impact your pro bono case? This session will teach you how to advocate for your pro bono client during a time of both uncertainty and hope for asylum law. We will discuss policies enacted by the Trump Administration that are most likely to impact pro bono clients referred by the Commission on Immigration and its projects, whether or how they are likely to change during the Biden administration, and how to stay informed in an area of law that remains in flux.

Speakers: Jennie Kneedler, Director of Policy and Pro Bono, Commission on Immigration (moderator), Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel, American Immigration Council, D.C, Priscilla J. Orta, Senior Staff Attorney, ProBAR

Non-CLE Break with Content: 4:20-4:40

Session 3 — Bolstering Your Asylum Case: Evidence and Fact Gathering

4:40—5:40 pm EST, January 25, 2021

The session will focus on asylum case development including tips to fact-gather and build evidence in an asylum case. We will also hear from speakers from the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and Justice in Motion to learn more about additional resources for evidence gathering in other countries.

Speakers: Laura Egan, Senior Staff Attorney, ABA Children’s Immigration Law Academy; Jorge L. Escobedo, Director of Pro Bono Partnerships, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice; Claudia Murga, Legal Pro Bono Consultant, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice; Glykeria Tsiokanou, Justice in Motion

Non-CLE Keynote speaker: César C. García Hernández, Grounding Immigration Advocacy in History: Deprivation of Liberty & Criminalization of Migration 1:00-1:20 pm EST

Session 4 -Effective Advocacy in Immigration Court: Tips from Former Immigration Judges and Seasoned Litigators

1:30 - 2:30 pm EST, January 26, 2021

This session provides a unique opportunity for volunteers new to the immigration area, as well as experienced practitioners, to hear from former immigration judges and seasoned litigators about the most effective ways to present your case. Former immigration judges Lisa Dornell and Ilyce Shugall will share their tips on effective (and not-so-effective) advocacy strategies, including persuasive evidence gathering and in-court presentation. Brooke Cucinella, a former New York federal prosecutor, will discuss her experience representing a detained asylum-seeker in immigration court, and offer practical tips to utilize prior legal experience to your client's advantage.

Lisa Dornell, retired Immigration Judge; Ilyce Shugall, former immigration judge; Brooke Cucinella, Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Laura Peña, ABA Pro Bono Counsel

Non-CLE Break with Content: 2:30-2:50

Session 5 - Advocating for Release from Detention & BIA Appeals through Remote Representation

2:50-3:50 pm EST, January 26, 2021

Opportunities to advocate for immigrants in removal proceedings extend beyond litigation of their cases for asylum or other forms of relief. This panel will explore how pro bono attorneys can provide remote representation to detained adults seeking release on bond or parole, as well as the process for representing a client before the Board of Immigration Appeals. The speakers will address both the relevant law and procedure that pro bono attorneys need to successfully undertake remote representation for both types of case matters, as well as the types of support available for volunteers through the Commission on Immigration's projects and the Immigration Justice Campaign.

Natalie L. Cadwalader-Schultheis, Staff Attorney, ProBAR, Christopher "Kai" Medeiros, IJP Staff Attorney, Gonzalo S. Izquierdo, Staff Attorney, ABA ProBAR Children's Project, Moderated by Ilana Etkin Greenstein, Senior Attorney, American Immigration Council's Immigration Justice Campaign

Non-CLE Break with Content: 3:50-4:10

Session 6 - Trauma-Informed Representation and Advocacy

4:10-5:10 pm EST, January 26, 2021

Learn how to employ trauma-informed skills in your representation of asylum seekers. This session will cover practical tips on how to work with clients who have endured and survived trauma.

Chloe Walker, Supervising Attorney, CILA, Yasmin Yavar, Senior Staff Attorney, CILA

Non-CLE Break with Content: 5:10-5:40