American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass will travel to the Texas Rio Grande Valley area on June 25-26 to assess the legal needs of children and parents caught up in shifting federal policy on the handling of immigrants at the southern U.S. border.
Bass is scheduled to speak with parents who are separated from their children and housed at Port Isabel Detention Center about their legal needs, observe court proceedings, as well as meet with the staff and volunteer lawyers at the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR). President Donald Trump’s executive order on June 20 ending the separation of children and families at the border is creating a new set of complex legal questions and challenges for those affected that will require the expertise of lawyers across the country.
“The separation and detention of innocent children is antithetical to our values as Americans,” Bass said. “Because the issues of immigration status, reunification, and future detentions are fast-moving and legally complicated, I will go to Texas to assess the situation and investigate ways the legal community can help expedite the reunification of families, assist in finding pro bono attorneys for those seeking asylum, and ease the stress and suffering of all individuals seeking entry into the United States.”
ProBAR provides no-cost legal services to families separated at the border, providing representation, pro bono referrals and legal information to immigrants and asylum-seekers detained in South Texas each year by the U.S. government. In the current crisis, the staff is providing legal services to detained children and coordinating groups of volunteer Spanish-speaking lawyers, who have come from throughout the country to provide legal services to adults. ProBAR is a joint project between the ABA, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.