Celebrate Pro Bono
Dear Pro Bono Friends,

Happy Fall!

The lazy days of summer are behind us and a new school year is in full swing. The changing colors of the leaves and the dropping temperatures signal not just the beginning of autumn but also the start of the American Bar Association's National Pro Bono Celebration , which takes place every October. This year, the Celebration runs from October 20-26, and here at Catholic Charities, we have many reasons to celebrate, and lots of Pro Bono Week plans.

Nearly two years after the launch of the Catholic Charities Pro Bono Project, we celebrate project and team expansion, victories small and large, and the addition of new service delivery models:

  • In July, we welcomed the newest member of our pro bono team, Victor Cueva. Victor is our first regionally located pro bono supervising attorney working out of the Catholic Charities Kingston office to support the Pro Bono Project and our LHV Pro Bono Volunteer Advocates working with clients who live in the upper counties of the lower/mid-Hudson region. He has lived in the Kingston area for nearly twenty years and is deeply connected to the community. To learn more about Victor and the other members of Team Pro Bono, check out the Pro Bono Project website.
  • In August and September, the Pro Bono Project represented clients at our first two individual hearings to arise out of cases placed with you, our attorney volunteers! One case was granted asylum immediately and the other was continued to allow for the attorney to adapt her case strategy to recent changes in asylum law. We considered both wins!
  • Just this month, we launched our newest service in the Hudson - the Immigration Court Help Center, Lower Hudson Valley. The Help Center is an adaptation of a city-based service that Catholic Charities (and our volunteers!) currently provide at the New York Immigration Court. Like our NYC-based model, the Help Center will rely on attorney and non-attorney volunteers to assist individuals to complete pro se asylum applications and basic immigration legal screenings. If you haven't had the chance to participate in one of our single-day volunteer opportunities, there will be many additional opportunities available with the launch of this new programming.

Moments of celebration and joy are exactly the fuel that we need for this work. Imagine what it would feel like to celebrate an individual win for your pro bono client! Catholic Charities can give you that opportunity. There are 10 opportunities for you to consider below.

Next week will be busy with multiple events lined up for national Pro Bono Week, including engagements with new volunteers from Samsung and BNY Mellon and an innovative case assessment clinic with the law firm of O'Melveny and Myers and Chubb . We can't wait to tell you all about our pro bono adventures later this month.

Next week, enjoy the National Pro Bono Celebration in a way that is meaningful for you!
We currently have 10 cases in this presentation ready for your service . Review the cases in this presentation to see if the perfect opportunity is at your fingertips!
 
To claim a case or to receive contact information with which to run a conflicts check, the process is simple:
 
1.       Review the cases below and pick a case (or two!)
2.       Reply to us at susan.marks@archny.org   and mirjam.grunenfelder-reig@archny.org with the case number(s).
3.       If the case remains available, you will receive an email from me with a formal case placement package. After the initial case launch, the Pro Bono Supervising Attorney mentoring your case will advise the client that you will be contacting him or her by phone within 2 weeks so that your representation can commence.
4.       If you have not already done so, you will be asked to sign the Catholic Charities PBVA Agreement and to execute a Catholic Charities Pro Bono Project Representation Agreement with your client that outlines the scope of your full case placement through Catholic Charities.  
5.       Throughout the pendency of your representation, you can expect in-depth mentorship and around the clock technical assistance by a Catholic Charities Pro Bono Supervising Attorney at every stage of the case.
 
Remember: Catholic Charities can assist you with interpretation services and other case support needs as you proceed with your representation.
 
Please consider accepting a pro bono matter from Catholic Charities today; the clients below have been waiting for help from passionate pro bono advocates like you!
Cases Available for Placement
Case# 1 URGENT
Location: Westchester County
Estimated time commitment: 50+ hours
Spanish-speaking clients
Upcoming Immigration Court hearing: November 7, 2019 (Master Calendar Hearing)*
One Year Filing Deadline: June 23, 2020

T he AA family – father, M; mother, J; and step-daughter, S – fled Nicaragua to escape persecution on account of the couple's political opinion in opposition to the Ortega regime in Nicaragua. Specifically, they came out in opposition to a policy to increase social security taxes and reduce pension benefits for the elderly, and actively supported student groups who protested in solidarity with pensioners. The couple's opposition has been observed and recorded by government supporters. Immediately prior to their flight, masked men armed with guns broke into the family home and told them that they did not want to see M or J doing anything political. In this same period, others publicly opposing the government were disappeared and murdered by pro-government paramilitary forces. The AAs now fear they will be killed after the threats and the violence they witnessed in their home country. The AAs arrived at the southern border in April 2019 and were stuck in limbo due to the Remain in Mexico Program until June 2019. The family has been placed in removal proceedings and M and J are eligible for asylum based on political opinion. They need a dedicated pro bono volunteer advocate like you to help the family fight their case in immigration court. S, M's step-daughter, is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a visa for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. In addition to her derivative claim for asylum, SIJS will allow S the opportunity to eventually obtain lawful permanent residence. Catholic Charities prefers to place this family together with a team of pro bono attorneys, rather than a single volunteer.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment.

Case #2 – SECOND REQUEST
Location: Kings County
Estimated time commitment: 20+ hours
Quiche and Spanish-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court hearing: December 12, 2019 (Master Calendar Hearing)*

E and A are siblings from Guatemala who came to the U.S. to flee violence and discrimination due to their membership in an indigenous group. E and A were abandoned by their father when they were infants. Their father has not be in contact with the siblings or their mother since he left. The children’s mother was left to raise them alone, and in January 2018 she fled to the U.S. The siblings joined her in the U.S. shortly thereafter. E and A currently reside with their mother and other family members where they lead safe, happy, and protected lives E and A are in removal proceedings and are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a visa for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. This status will allow them to remain in the U.S. with their mother and extended family. E and A need a volunteer attorney like you to fight their case before the local family court and the Immigration Court.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment. 

Case #3
Location: Kings County
Estimated time commitment: 20+ hours
Spanish-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court hearing: February 11, 2020 (Master Calendar Hearing)*

D is a 20-year-old young man from Honduras who came to the U.S. to escape persecution on account of his political activity and violence both inside his home and in his community. D grew up with his mother, father and four siblings and experienced abuse from an early age. He has always understood that his childhood was distinct from other children’s experiences. He never felt loved or cared for by his parents. When D was around 8 or 9 years old, his parents started using corporal punishment and when D finished primary school at age 13, his parents forced him to work full time as a construction worker. In his later teenage years, D became politically engaged. D experienced discrimination on account of his membership in an ethnic minority group, Garifuna, and because of his race. He was kidnapped and assaulted by a criminal gang and Honduran military police who held a gun to his head and demanded that he join the gang. The following day D fled Honduras in fear for his life and has now reunited with a close family friend who he refers to as his uncle.  D is in removal proceedings and is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a visa for children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. This status will allow D to remain in the U.S. D may also have an asylum claim, and needs a dedicated pro bono attorney to fight for him before the local family court and the Immigration Court.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment. 
 
Case #4
Location: Westchester County (Yonkers)
Estimated time commitment: 20+ hours
Spanish-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court hearing: April 1, 2020 (Master Calendar Hearing)*
One Year Filing Deadline: March 11, 2020

T is a 29-year-old young man from Cuba who fled to the U.S. to escape persecution on account of his political opinion and activity in opposition to the Cuban government’s proposal to ratify a new constitution that would allow for the persecution of political opponents of the state. His opposition created problems with T’s boss, who accused him of being anti-revolutionary, and the Cuban authorities, who detained him for protesting publicly on two occasions. Due to T’s political activity, he was detained, beaten, tortured and threatened; he now fears for his life due to his interactions with government officials. After seeking refuge in the U.S., T made contact with his family. While in detention, he spoke to his aunt who informed him that the police questioned her, and T’s mother and brother about his whereabouts. After learning this information, T has become worried about the safety of his family.  T is eligible for asylum and needs a pro bono volunteer advocate like you to help him fight his case in immigration court. His next master calendar hearing is on April 1, 2020. T is also eligible for asylum under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, because he is a Cuban citizen who has been inspected, admitted or paroled into the United States at a port of entry.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment. 
 
Case #5 – THIRD REQUEST
Location:  Richmond County
Estimated time commitment:  20+ hours
Spanish-speaking client
Filing Deadline:  None
 
G is a 27-year-old native of Mexico who moved to the US with her parents when she was a teenager. She met her future husband, a US citizen, in 2011. They were married in 2013, and together have three children. All of G's children were born in the U.S. Shortly after their marriage, G's husband became physically and verbally abusive toward G and neglectful of the family. He punched, choked, and insulted G repeatedly, until she finally left him. G is eligible to self-petition for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act, which will allow her to remain in the U.S. to care for her children without relying on her abusive husband.

Case #6 – SECOND REQUEST
Location: Bronx County
Estimated time commitment: 20+ hours
Spanish-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court hearing: TBD (Master Calendar Hearing)*

L is a 13-year-old girl from Honduras who came to the U.S. to reunite with her mother after her grandmother, and caretaker, passed away. L was abandoned by her biological father when she was only eight months old. He has not had contact with L since then and has not provided any financial support. Because L’s mother was the primary caretaker, she came to the U.S. to better provide for her daughter. Even though they were separated, her mother called L every day and financially supported her. L currently re sides with her mother in the Bronx, where she leads a safe, happy, and protected life.  L is in removal proceedings and is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a visa for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. This status will allow her to remain in the U.S. with her mother. L needs a dedicated pro bono advocate to fight her case before the local family court and the Immigration Court.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment.

Case #7
Location: Dutchess County
Estimated time commitment: 10-15 hours
English-speaking client

M is an 18-year-old young woman from Afghanistan who was granted asylum in November 2018. She is now ready to file her adjustment of status application so that she can obtain a green card and lawful permanent resident status. M needs a supportive pro bono volunteer advocate who is excited to help her take the next step towards permanent status by completing and filing the required paperwork with the government.

Case #8 – SECOND REQUEST
Location: Kings County
Estimated time commitment: 20+ hours
Spanish-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court hearing: TBD (Master Calendar Hearing)*

B is a 17-year-old young man from Guatemala who came to the U.S. to reunite with his mother. B’s father left him at such a young age that he does not have any memories of him. He lived with his mother, father and siblings until he was 4 years old, at which time his mother moved to the U.S. to support her family from afar. B was then raised by his grandparents, and maintained a strong connection to his mother, speaking to her on the phone multiple times per week. B’s mother alone provided for her son financially, and was eventually able to make enough money to bring him and his brothers to the U.S., where he lives with his siblings, mother and step-father. B dreams of attending college to study mathematics and is grateful that he finally lives in a safe and stable home.  B is in removal proceedings and is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a visa for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. This status will allow B to remain in the U.S. with his mother, step-father, and brothers. B needs a committed pro bono advocate like you to fight for him before the local family court and the Immigration Court.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment. 

Case #9 – SECOND REQUEST
Location: Richmond County
Estimated time commitment: 20+ hours
Spanish-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court heari ng: TBD (Master Ca lendar Hearing)*

E is a 17-year-old young man from Honduras who came to the U.S. to reunite with his mother. E was detained and sent to a shelter in Florida, for about 16 days, and later released to his mother, Y. In Honduras, E lived with both his mother and father until Y kicked E’s father out to escape his abuse. E’s mother was always his sole provider, working hard to provide for her family. E’s father would viciously beat E and Y, knocking E off of his feet when he was only 8, and breaking Y’s nose. E’s father abused drugs and alcohol, leading E to live in a constant state of anxiety and fear, not knowing what behavior would trigger a beating from his father. In the U.S., E lives with his mother and step-father, a man who parents him like the father he never had.  E is in removal proceedings and is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a visa for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. This status will allow E to remain in the U.S. with his mother and step-father, and to pursue his dream of going to university to study business. E needs a dedicated pro bono advocate to fight for him before the local family court and the Immigration Court.

  * A master calendar hearing (MCH) is the first appearance that happens in an immigration case. It is at this appearance that the Immigration Judge (IJ) accepts pleadings. For those who are familiar with criminal court, it has been likened procedurally to an arraignment.  

Case #10
Location: Bronx County
Estimated time commitment: 30+ hours
English and French-speaking client
Upcoming Immigration Court heari ng: November 8, 2021 (Individual Merits Hearing)*

M is a 25-year old young man from Cameroon who fled to the U.S. after being wrongfully detained, beaten and threatened with death. While in Cameroon, M was a university student who was associated with the student union, which the government perceived as threatening its political power. M was imprisoned twice by the Cameroonian government and suffered physical beatings, forced labor and death threats. M fled and obtained a student visa to attend an English Institute at a university in Tennessee. Unfortunately, M was unable to attend school because he began experiencing complications related to trauma and depression as a result of his experiences in Cameroon.  M is eligible for asylum and needs a pro bono volunteer advocate like you to help him fight his case in immigration court. He has a merits hearing scheduled for November 8, 2021.

* An individual hearing (IH) is the final hearing at which an Immigration Judge considers all of the evidence in an immigrant's case. S/he will take testimony and review a lengthy evidence packet and legal brief that the PBVA will submit to the court 30-60 days in advance of the hearing date.
If you are interested in accepting any of these cases, please reply to this email to claim
your case today!
As always, thank you for your participation in the Catholic Charities Pro Bono Project. Your legal expertise is the key to ensuring that immigrant families stay safely together. If one of the cases above has captured your interest, please reach out to us at susan.marks@archny.org and mirjam.grunenfelder-reig@archny.org to get started.

In solidarity and joy,
Susan & Mirjam

Susan Marks
Pro Bono Legal Manager │ Special Projects
Immigrant & Refugee Services
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York

Mirjam Grunenfelder-Reig
Special Projects Manager
Immigrant & Refugee Services
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York

p.s. Feel free to forward this message to any colleagues you think might be interested in learning about our pro bono network!