Pro bono attorneys and legal professionals help with a variety of case types.
Representing Youth Who Have Been Abandoned, Neglected, or Abused in State Court
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a status available to some young people and provides a path to lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) for that child. In order to be eligible for SIJS, the child must be subject to a predicate order from a state court in which the court finds that the child has been abandoned, abused, or neglected by one or both parents.
We rely on assistance from pro bono attorneys who are willing to represent the petitioner in state court proceedings. These cases most often include sole custody, dissolution of marriage, kinship/guardianship, and emancipation proceedings. Typically, these are default cases, and they do not require a hearing. We provide support, templates, and step-by-step
instructions to help you, and no family law experience is required. Each case takes between 10 and 30 hours on average.
Helping Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and other serious crimes.
NMILC seeks volunteer attorneys to assist our clients in filing for U nonimmigrant status (the U visa). NMILC currently has dozens of survivors of domestic violence and other serious crimes who are waiting for services. To qualify for a U visa, an applicant must show that she has been helpful to law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime and that she has been substantially harmed, either emotionally or physically, by the crime. U nonimmigrant status puts the client on the path to obtaining Lawful Permanent Residency (a “green card”).
Working on a U visa case consists of obtaining certification from law enforcement or another government official that the victim is cooperative, gathering evidence that the victim suffered abuse and was the victim of a crime, and submitting forms and documentation to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. These cases are adjudicated through a review of the documentation. There is no hearing or interview for these applications, so it can be a particularly good case for someone who does not wish to participate in litigation. We estimate that in most cases, a U visa case takes about 20 hours to prepare depending on the complexity of the case.
Providing Assistance at Legal Fairs
NMILC hosts larger community events where we need volunteers, such as group processing events for citizenship. We expect to have an increased need for community events to provide immigrants with life-planning documents to have on hand in the event that they are suddenly detained or deported to plan for the care of children and management of financial affairs. We need assistance at our workshops, which occur weekly on Wednesday afternoons, as well as periodic larger events. These volunteer opportunities are appropriate for both attorneys and paralegals.
Help Immigrants in your area of expertise
In conjunction with other community organizations, NMILC is developing a network of attorneys with a wide range of expertise whose work intersects with issues of importance to immigrants. These attorneys could act as a resource for other attorneys or provide consultations to community members as needed. We are particularly looking for people who can advise on employment law, powers of attorney and other life-planning documents in case of deportation, and civil rights. Please let us know if you have expertise in another area of the law and you are willing to share your knowledge.
Help Immigrants detained at Cibola Detention Center
NMILC provides support for immigrants detained at the Cibola Detention Center, which houses the greatest percentage of asylum seekers of any detention center in the country and includes the only facility to hold transgender immigrants. Along with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, we coordinate representation with as many detained transgender women as possible in their asylum cases. The hearings are held at the Denver Immigration Court but are done via videoconference from the detention center and many of the preliminary hearings can be done telephonically. We have samples, mentorship, and step-by-step guides available. Each case takes approximately 50 hours over a period of approximately 10 to 12 weeks.
For attorneys and any legal workers who speak Spanish and who can make a regular commitment, even if it is once a month or once every other month, we are looking for assistance with legal access presentations at the Cibola Detention Center that happen every Tuesday and Thursday. We cannot financially support transportation or housing, but we can facilitate your travel to the detention center with our crew of experienced staff and volunteers. The time commitment is approximately 8 hours once a month or every other month, plus travel.
For Attorneys Outside New Mexico
Attorneys outside New Mexico who can travel to Denver can provide a great service by representing transgender immigrants whose hearings in their asylum cases are held at the Denver Immigration Court.
Attorneys looking to assist remotely can also help file applications for our clients through Innovation Law Lab.
Attorneys seeking to work with immigrants in their own communities can search for opportunities at https://www.standwithimmigrants.org/volunteers_needed.