Human Rights Defender Project: Pro Bono Bond Representation

People detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have the right to legal counsel in immigration proceedings, but they do not have the right to a government-appointed attorney. Many people, regardless of age or capability, have to represent themselves in immigration court.

While federal immigration law mandates detention of certain categories of people throughout their removal proceedings, many people are eligible for release on bond. High bond amounts, however, effectively prohibit many people from being released from custody.

Legal representation makes a difference. Represented immigrants are four times more likely to be released from detention than those without counsel.

Volunteer today to represent people in custody redetermination proceedings. No prior immigration experience is required. Attorneys must have a valid license to practice law in a U.S. jurisdiction. This opportunity is currently available at the Fort Snelling Immigration Court.

Step 1: Watch the training. The Human Rights Defender Bond Training presented by the Detainee Rights Clinic of the University of Minnesota Law School's James H. Binger Center for New Americans and Robins Kaplan LLP provides a comprehensive overview of the

Step 2: Sign up to shadow an attorney from the Minnesota Detention Project. Observe detained immigration court proceedings and see how representation in custody redetermination proceedings makes a difference. Shadow as often as needed to feel ready to volunteer.

Step 3: Join the Pro Bono Bond Representation Panel. Attorneys who have completed the online training and shadowed a Minnesota Detention Project attorney will be added to the pro bono panel. Once on the panel, attorneys will receive access to malpractice insurance coverage, ongoing training, and expert mentorship.

Step 4: Take a case. Once ready, volunteer attorneys will be matched with a case. Cases eligible for bond will be identified by Minnesota Detention Project attorneys while the volunteer attorney is shadowing. The volunteer attorney will leave with information about the person's next court appearance, where they are detained, and a summary of relevant evidence and legal arguments to develop. Volunteers typically will have 1-3 weeks before the next court appearance to meet with their client and prepare for the custody redetermination hearing in front of an immigration judge. 

This project is a collaboration of The Advocates for Human Rights, the University of Minnesota Law School's James H. Binger Center for New Americans and Robins Kaplan LLP.


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