Posted on June 12, 2016
New York, NY, US
Volunteer with us
Safe Passage Project Corporation (Safe Passage) is a non profit corporation created to support the unmet needs of immigrant children. We are always seeking volunteers. See our webpage at www.safepassageproject.org complete the volunteer form.
Safe Passage is an outgrowth of a pro bono legal clinic and clearinghouse started at the Justice Action Center at NYLS in 2006. The NYLS clinic and clearinghouse is called the "Safe Passage Immigrant Project," but to avoid confusion, will be referred to below as the "NYLS clinic." The NYLS clinic started by helping approximately twenty children a year while training law students and, occasionally, pro bono attorneys. In the summer of 2012, at the request of the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Immigration Court located in Manhattan, the NYLS clinic became a "screening clinic" with monthly attendance and volunteer service at the removal proceedings held at the Immigration Court. As part of the clinic, NYLS created a clinical course where two faculty members and eight to ten law students would appear as "friends of the court" to screen and evaluate the immigration situation of immigrant youth, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, placed into removal proceedings by the Department of Homeland Security. The screening clinic represent a juvenile for the limited purpose of explaining the proceedings and, if appropriate, attempting to find pro bono counsel to take the case.
Under current law, even unaccompanied indigent children are not entitled to any government-provided legal representation in immigration proceedings. The number of immigration cases involving indigent children is growing and now represent approximately 12% of the court's workload. The growth of the number of children in proceedings and the demands on the Immigration Court and prosecutors make the lack of systematic legal representation for the children very problematic, while increasing the burden on the courts and personnel involved.
While NYLS will continue the screening clinic as part of its clinical curriculum, the needs of the unrepresented children and the Immigration Court are beyond the capacity of a law school class. Safe Passage was organized to take on case assessment, mentoring of pro bono attorneys who volunteer to represent indigent youth, and, in appropriate cases, formally representing some of the children, all tasks beyond the capacity of a law school clinic. In addition, the needs of the vulnerable population served by the Project, and of the Immigration Court, do not follow the law school's academic calendar. The Project anticipates working closely with the NYLS clinic, as the clinic may screen cases for eventual representation by the Project, while the Project may take over the search for other pro bono counsel for cases screened by the clinic. The Project also may offer opportunities for NYLS students to participate in Project activities, such as performing research for pro bono attorneys, as part of the students' education.
One of the missions of Safe Passage is to assist immigrant youth, their families, and caretakers through education, training, and mentoring. Safe Passage advises individuals and representatives about the types of legal rights available under United States law, such as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Deferred Action, asylum, U-Visa, T-Visa, VAWA (immigration relief for survivors of domestic violence), family-based petitions, and derivative citizenship. The Project enlists school administrators and teachers in disseminating age- and language-appropriate "know your rights" materials. Safe Passage offers intake and screening services to expand the availability of free or low cost counsel to immigrant youth. Working together with the Justice Action Center at New York Law School (NYLS), a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational institution, the Project participates in the training and mentoring of attorneys who commit to handling cases on a pro bono basis.