Who We Are:The Karnes Pro Bono Project is housed out of the San Antonio Flores Street office of RAICES, a Texas immigration legal services non-profit. RAICES is able to staff the detention center with an attorney M-Th, but we rely on volunteers to help with most of the work. The families at Karnes are mostly asylum seekers who recently arrived from the "Northern Triangle" - Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They are in expedited removal proceedings, which means that before they may be released to their families in the United States to pursue their asylum claim in immigration court, they must pass a credible or reasonable fear interview in detention, more or less to determine whether they meet the basic requirements for asylum or other forms of relief.
What We Do:The work at Karnes consists of filling out intake paperwork, interviewing clients, and helping them prepare for their credible or reasonable fear interview (CFI/RFI). We also help families who have failed the interview by preparing them for review of their case before an immigration judge, then asking the asylum office to reconsider the case.
Attorney volunteers can assist families by preparing them for their interviews, drafting declarations, representing families in review of negative CFI/RFI decisions in front of the immigration judge, and representing families in some CFI/RFI interviews.
Non-attorney volunteers can assist families by doing group intakes, preparing families for their interviews, drafting declarations, and meeting with families for follow up on specific issues and questions.
If you have particular skills or background (i.e. medical, social work), we can work with you to find ways to use your expertise for specific advocacy needs.
We also have opportunities for remote work. This includes drafting declarations over the phone in Spanish, and for attorneys - drafting requests for reconsideration and telephonically representing families in their CFIs. Remote opportunities are typically sent out over our pro bono list-serv.
Logistics: We don't have a required minimum time commitment, but for volunteers coming in from out of town, the best use of time is usually to come for at least 3-5 days. Since RAICES is in San Antonio, we carpool with volunteers and legal assistants to the detention center, about an hour away, every day that we’re there. We can usually find free housing for volunteers with community members in San Antonio. We also welcome volunteers who would like to volunteer on a recurring long-term basis. We have written training materials, once to twice monthly training calls, and a few reference videos online.