Detainee Correspondence Project Internship

"I am only one, But still I am one. I cannot do everything, But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." - Edward Everett Hale

Our interns

Our interns

About the Internship

The ABA Commission on Immigration is seeking talented law clerks and interns to assist in cutting-edge, individualized assistance to detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The ABA is the only organization in the country that accepts calls from all 200 detention facilities across the nation with a goal of ensuring that immigration laws respect the due process rights of immigrants, benefit adult and children immigrants and refugees detained by the ICE, and promote pro bono practices across the country. Duties of interns consist of communicating with immigration detainees in ICE custody in detention centers, determining what information may assist them, and assembling the appropriate materials. Interns are trained in identifying specific complaints regarding the condition of detention centers and they assist in drafting complaint letters that are forwarded to the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Office of the Inspector General, and the appropriate ICE Field Office Director. In addition, interns develop new material addressing hot topic immigration issues. Through their work, interns hone their legal research, writing and advocacy knowledge and skills, and gain in-depth experience in immigration issues encountered by detainees. Clerkships and internships provide exceptional experience for developing a career in the field of immigration or human rights. Our office has a collegial and supportive atmosphere. The Commission’s staff makes it a priority to continue the mentoring of interns after the completion of their internships. 

Intern testimonials

My internship with the ABA Commission on Immigration was one of the single most important experiences I had during undergrad in shaping what I wanted to do with my life. First, it solidified my decision to pursue public interest law after college; I haven't made it to law school yet, but my first year out of school I am working as a pro bono legal assistant for survivors of domestic violence in their civil and immigration matters. More than just shaping the constructs of a possible career path, though, my internship taught me a philosophy to approaching work in general. While one of the most rewarding moments of my summer with the ABA was when a caller reported that the materials and country conditions I had sent him had helped him secure withholding of removal, we knew that most of the callers, who were all going it pro se, faced extremely unfavorable odds. This internship taught me that it is always worthwhile to be the person standing in someone’s corner during his or her moments of crisis, regardless of the ultimate outcome. I remember one detainee telling me after our phone call that, after a long time of being treated with disrespect, he felt like he finally felt understood. I’m hoping that any future job I take will be centered on the same core principle: recognizing the humanity of those caught up in systems that deny it. Mr. Lang’s attitude toward mentorship is, at this point, legendary, but I will conclude by noting how valuable it is for young people entering the workforce during uncertain and insecure times to encounter one of the most compassionate and encouraging supervisors alive today. (That sounds like hyperbole; I do not believe it is.) I think every student participating in the internship has been given the opportunity to leave more convinced in his or her own potential to add value to our world.

Grace Paine
Yale College, Summer 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the qualifications required? What are the availability requirements?

Law students and undergraduate interns must show a demonstrated commitment to public interest law and interest in immigration and refugee issues. Interns must demonstrate respect and compassion for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Proficiency in Spanish or other foreign languages is helpful, but not required. 

Spring and fall semester applicants must be available at least two full days a week. Summer applicants must be available five days a week. All internships are a minimum of ten weeks long.

How do I apply? Is there a deadline?

Please submit a cover letter (please include your expected weekly availability), resume, writing sample (any length), and list of three references to: immcenter@americanbar.org.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

There is no deadline to apply. Applications are accepted until positions are filled.

Where is this internship program located? Is it paid?

This internship is specifically for our Washington, DC office.  If you would like to volunteer with one of our pro bono projects, please contact them directly.

This internship is unpaid, however, students may qualify for academic credit.