About ProBAR

ProBAR's Purpose

Every year, hundreds of asylum seekers are detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in South Texas. They have fled civil war, ethnic fighting and religious and political persecution. Most have little, if any, money by the time they arrive in the United States and are not able to hire counsel or post the substantial immigration bonds required for release.

Having language barriers, little understanding of U.S. law and court procedures, and few financial resources, they face almost insurmountable obstacles to proving their asylum claims. As a result, many risk being deported back to places where they may face persecution and even death based upon their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

The responsibility has fallen on the private bar to offer legal assistance to these individuals. ProBAR provides the means by which the legal community can respond.

How does ProBAR work?

ProBAR is directed by an attorney coordinator located in Harlingen, Texas. The project works closely with local community based programs, the immigration court, and the organized bar to identify detained asylum seekers who have strong claims to asylum or other relief under U.S. law but, owing to indigence, cannot afford to hire private counsel.

The ProBAR coordinator matches asylum applicants requesting counsel with attorney volunteers who are available to travel to Harlingen to represent them. The coordinator discusses each case with the volunteer and provides support and guidance throughout the progress of the case. To the extent available, each attorney also is assisted by a volunteer law student, interpreter or legal assistant.

The staff at ProBAR make every effort to select cases and tailor procedures to make efficient use of a volunteer's time in South Texas. ProBAR's offices are designed to provide a volunteer attorney with a place to work, office equipment, and legal research materials. ProBAR also provides liability insurance coverage at no cost to volunteer attorneys working on ProBAR cases.

Who can help?

ProBAR is designed to utilize the services of volunteers who are not experienced in immigration law, as well as those who are. Attorneys need not be licensed in the state of Texas to participate. In addition, law students, under the direction of a supervising attorney, may be permitted to represent asylum applicants at their court hearings.

To learn about volunteering opportunities, please contact us.