Thank you for your interest in working with the Migrant Center for Human Rights!
Please contact us if you are interested in taking a pro bono case (make sure to let us know what experience you have representing asylum seekers — if you are new to the field or a seasoned practitioner — and what experience you have working 1) with clients, especially traumatized individuals, 2) on human rights issues, 3) brief writing, and 4) trial court or appellate litigation).
Cases on appeal can be done from anywhere in the country. Cases before an Immigration Judge require two to four visits to the detention center (of several days each). The initial visit is to meet the client, go over the contract, work on / review the declaration, and discuss evidence. The final visit is to prepare testimony for trial and to attend the merits hearing. The ABA estimates an asylum case takes approximately 50 hours to prepare, although this varies based on the complexity of the case and the attorney’s experience level.
The Migrant Center provides on the ground support and mentorship, depending on the pro bono attorney’s needs.
The Migrant Center for Human Rights is currently accepting applications to sponsor fellows to assist us in our work advocating on behalf of detained asylum seekers. If selected, the fellow would engage in direct representation before the Immigration Court, ICE (parole and bond requests), and possibly the Board of Immigration Appeals. This is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the field of immigration law, with significant focus on litigation, writing, research, and direct client services. To apply please send your resume, a writing sample, and a cover letter explaining your interest, relevant experiences, and how you think your application will meet the goals of the fellowship program you have selected to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have opportunities for law students to volunteer for a week or more or do an externship for a semester or summer (one to three months). If you would like to apply for any of the opportunities below, please send a copy of your resume and a cover letter explaining your interest and highlighting any relevant experiences (including second language skills). Please include your proposed start and end date. Depending on current needs, students will most likely engage in one of the following ways:
One Week to One Month Volunteer
Come spend your winter or spring break with us and make a difference in the life of an asylum seeker! Students will be paired up with an asylum seeker. They will be provided a copy of the person’s personal statement and asylum application upon arrival at the office Monday morning. After reviewing the materials, the student will travel to the detention center to meet with and interview the asylum seeker, gathering all the notes they need to prepare a strong declaration and correcting any errors on the asylum application.
On Tuesday students will prepare a draft of the declaration and then meet with their attorney supervisor to discuss the legal and factual components of the case. On Wednesday, they will travel to the detention center again to ask follow-up questions and clarify any unclear aspects of the asylum seeker’s story. Students will be acting as cultural ambassadors, helping the asylum seeker explain aspects of their culture in ways that will make sense to an Immigration Judge.
Final revisions are made at the office on Thursday and on Friday the student will return to the detention center to read back the final declaration to the asylum seeker to ensure its accuracy before the asylum seeker signs their name. These declarations are often what makes or breaks a case, as it is what the Immigration Judge first looks at in determining if he or she qualifies for asylum. This declaration, and the student’s evaluation of the case, are also taken into consideration in the Migrant Center’s determination on representation eligibility (in house or referral).
For students who stay more than one week, they will either work with additional asylum seekers as described above or may continue to help the same asylum seeker with gathering human rights evidence to support their case.
Externs will work on preparing declarations and asylum applications, researching country conditions, writing legal briefs, and potentially will have the opportunity to represent a client in their asylum case. Externs will effectively do everything that our staff attorneys do, building the skills they need for immigration practice after graduation. This position requires some night and weekend work, although we try to keep this to a minimum as we believe it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
In addition to the requirements above, we ask for a writing sample and will conduct interviews with students we believe meet our requirements and current needs. Depending on the results of the interview, we may ask to contact your references.
Students will need to have a car and be willing to commute 65 miles to the detention center 2-3 times a week. We are happy to work with students in securing externship credit and/or funding, as well as housing.
San Antonio is a very livable city. It is the sixth largest city in the nation, but retains a small town feel in some respects. Costs are lower than in other large cities in the U.S. and the city tends to be very family-oriented. There are great opportunities for exploring Texas history and culture and some wonderful state parks for nature lovers. We are about an hour’s drive from Austin, a college town where there is a lively music scene.
Counselors, Psychologists and Other Health Professionals
Please contact us if interested in providing a professional evaluation to help in an asylum seeker’s case.
Translators and Interpreters
The Migrant Center is always looking for professional document translators and in-person or over-the-phone interpreters. Please contact us if interested in helping with an asylum seeker’s case.
Please contact us if interested in engaging in visitation or pen pal correspondence with a detained asylum seeker.