Immigration Court Observers

People detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) face barriers to basic human rights. While people detained by ICE have the right to legal counsel, 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. Detention undermines the ability to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution, to remain with family, and to a fair day in court. Although immigration court hearings are open to the public, few people witness these proceedings.

The Human Rights Defender Project Court Observers help bring transparency and accountability to this system. Court Observers attend hearings and report on issues of concern including access to counsel, family and community support, and interpretation; the manner of arrest; and the ability of individuals to raise defenses to deportation.

No immigration experience or law license is needed. This community service opportunity is open to all. Court observers must have valid government-issued photo identification to enter the immigration court; a REAL ID or passport will be required as of October 1, 2021.

This project currently is open to observers at the Fort Snelling Immigration Court only.

Step 1: Click here to watch the orientation video.

Step 2: Complete the Volunteer Agreement below.  

Step 3: New Volunteers are required to attend an in-person training.  Once you complete the Volunteer Agreement you will be contacted about the next orientation. 

Step 4: If you have already completed the Volunteer Agreement, and been trained, click here to sign up for shifts. 

Step 5: Attend scheduled shift, note observations, and return completed form as directed.


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This is an in-person volunteer opportunity at the Fort Snelling MN Immigration Court.
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