The Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) provides high-quality, holistic pro bono legal representation to immigrants detained in the southeastern United States. By ensuring that skilled attorneys are available to protect detained immigrants’ due process rights, the SIFI endeavors to win every meritorious deportation defense and custody case arising out of Trump-era immigration enforcement actions.
SIFI was developed and is directed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Innovation Law Lab and the Immigration Justice Campaign—an initiative of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Immigration Council, and the American Immigrant Representation Project—are collaborating with SIFI to provide technical assistance and to expand pro bono support.
The SIFI Lead Attorney manages weekly pro-bono attorneys and a full-time staff comprised of two Direct Services Attorneys and one project Coordinator to provide the highest quality legal representation to individuals detained in the Stewart Detention Center (“Stewart”) in Lumpkin, GA. The SIFI Lead Attorney coordinates the legal strategies for SIFI clients and is primarily responsible for devising (in collaboration with the SIFI team) the optimal pathway for victory in each SIFI case. This includes identifying eligibility for any defense against removal, eligibility for release through bond, parole, habeas or other lawful mechanisms, and potential litigation and other advocacy involving issues such as law enforcement misconduct during enforcement actions and conditions of confinement. Both directly and through volunteer attorneys, the SIFI Lead Attorney provides legal advice and representation to SIFI clients in accordance with the best practices and rules of conduct of the profession, provides on-the-ground/local guidance to attorneys at SPLC Legal Department practice groups for litigation and other advocacy efforts, and participates in program management and government liaison meetings.
- Works with local staff and SIFI organizational partners to run the operations of the project in Lumpkin, GA;
- Manages SIFI local staff;
- Based on SIFI case selection criteria, thoroughly screens pro bono attorneys’ intakes for defenses against deportation, bond and parole eligibility, and other potential legal claims and advocacy;
- Oversees development of release strategies for bond, parole, and habeas-eligible clients;
- Engages in quality control for bond and parole submissions, including reviewing and editing documents;
- Assists in the development, in collaboration with pro bono attorneys, the SIFI legal team, and others as necessary, the optimal pathway to victory for SIFI clients;
- Helps develop legal strategies to address facility- and immigration court-centered issues such as access to courts and counsel, due process violations, and prolonged detention;
- Helps develop factual record, refer cases and clients, and provide on the ground support to remote teams in litigation involving issues such as Fourth Amendment violations and other law enforcement misconduct, access to courts and counsel, conditions of confinement, and prolonged detention;
- Liaises with government officials to raise issues that arise;
- Handles some merits cases in addition to release cases;
- Oversees volunteer management and assesses volunteer skill each week to ensure best possible volunteer experience;
- Communicates regularly with SIFI organizational leadership;
- In conjunction with SIFI leadership, ensures that all staff and volunteers meet the highest standards of ethics and professionalism;
- Collaborates deeply with offsite SIFI attorneys, pro bono attorneys, and related partners to maximize the success of merits cases; and
- Other functions necessary to ensure successful completion of the project.
- JD from an accredited university;
- Membership in good standing in the bar of any state and/or the District of Columbia;
- At least three years of experience practicing before immigration courts;
- Dedication to and experience working with low-income, immigrant clients;
- Experience managing and directing staff; and
- Sufficient proficiency in written and spoken Spanish to understand and communicate accurately with Spanish-speaking clients;
- Willingness to spend considerable time meeting with detained individuals in the rural Deep South;
- Willingness to live in the rural Deep South, or willingness to live in Columbus, GA, or another community in the region and commute 45 minutes or longer;
- Valid driver’s license; and
- Commitment to working long hours.
- While Spanish proficiency is required, proficiency in Creole/French/Arabic/Hindi/Urdu and other languages will strengthen the application; and
- Experience working within volunteer-based projects preferred.
Other Special Considerations:
- This job is performed under general office conditions, and is not subject to any strenuous physical demands or dangerous conditions;
- In addition to a competitive salary and benefits, SIFI-Lumpkin staff may accept a monthly housing stipend from SPLC or live in SPLC-owned or leased housing in Lumpkin, GA;
- The attorney in this role can live in Columbus, GA, or another community in the region and commute to Lumpkin; and
- All applicants should submit cover letter, resume, references, and legal writing sample.
- 1 year, with the possibility of an extension.
The statements herein are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by the employee in this position. These statements are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of a person in this position.
An Equal-Opportunity Employer with a Commitment to Diversity:
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is proud to be an equal opportunity employer, and as an organization committed to diversity and the perspective of all voices, we consider applicants equally of race, gender, gender identity, color, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, disability, political affiliation, national origin, or prior record of arrest or conviction.
Minimum Education Required