J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Dilley Texas Service Event: Filling a Vital Need

JRCLS strongly endorses one of the noblest traditions of the legal profession – the legal representation of those in society who otherwise do not have equal access to protection of the law. Armed with this mandate, JRCLS Women in Law Committee teamed up with the Dilley Pro Bono Project and CARA (Catholic Legal Immigration Network, American Immigration Council, Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education & Legal Services and American Immigration Lawyers Assoc.) to provide pro bono legal services to women and children currently housed in the South Texas Family Residential Facility at Dilley, Texas. Several JRCLS members served at this event including Rebecca van Uitert, who has a long history of involvement with the Dilley Center, and Nancy van Slooten, member of several international JRCLS committees including Women in the Law.

The volunteer attorneys primarily helped women and families through the credible fear evaluation process of their asylum cases, which must be established before their cases can proceed. These evaluations typically last one hour during which the asylum-seeker must show a well-founded fear that if they are returned home, they will face persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Historically, 90 percent of these cases moved forward, but that statistic is lowering with the current administration’s zero-tolerance policy.{C}{C}[1]{C}{C} Attorneys can make a difference in these cases by advising the asylum-seekers of U.S. law and their rights within it, representation in custody redetermination hearings and negative credible and reasonable fear review hearings before the Immigration Judge,  and administrative appeals to the Asylum Office.

Katy Murdza, the advocacy coordinator with the Dilley Pro Bono Project, is quoted as saying, “We are fighting for these families who have already been through so much in their home countries and the journey with horrible conditions at the border, and then were separated by the government and went through unimaginable trauma from that.”{C}[2]{C}

By Kathryn Latour

{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}[1]{C}{C}{C}{C}{C} As quoted in the article, “Nearly 90% of people pass the US ‘credible fear’ test for refugees” by Aamna Mohdin & Ana Campoy, August 2, 2018.


Posted: 2019-03-19