Detainer Litigation and Discovery: ICE Records Discoverable

Innovation Law Lab, together with attorneys from Oregon Law Center, recently obtained a victory for the taxpayers in Wasco County who seek to an end of the ICE contract and other immigration enforcement activity prohibited by state law in their four-county jail. The jail, NORCOR, objected for months to delivering records demonstrating local law enforcement assistance with federal immigration enforcement. Citing 8 C.F.R. § 236.6, NORCOR made a blanket refusal to turn over documents, sought to claw back those it had already turned over, and refused to answer questions in depositions about the material.

The regulation, 8 C.F.R. § 236.6, prohibits public disclosure of the names and other identifying information of individuals held in detention by ICE. Plaintiffs contend that there is a significant difference between public disclosure, such a FOIA request or similar public records request, and documents sought in a lawsuit. The Wasco County Court agreed and ordered NORCOR to produce the documents, concluding “[t[hat regulation does not apply to requests for discovery in litigation.”

The Court also confirmed that where a local law enforcement agency or other party holds documents sent to it by a government agency, the Touhy regulations do not apply.  The Court reasoned that because NORCOR “is not a federal agency or a current or former federal employee,” the Plaintiffs may obtain documents directly from NORCOR.

Innovation Law Lab applauds our clients in demanding transparency and accountability at NORCOR, and hopes this ruling assists other jurisdictions in understanding the correct scope of 8 C.F.R. § 236.6.

A copy of the ruling can be found here.

Compassion, Immigration, and the Rule of Law

Photo: Ethan Chua, our summer intern, transfers knowledge to Amelia Bellows, our fall intern.

A few weeks before I began my internship at the Innovation Law Lab, a nonprofit based in Oregon that provides legal services to immigrants and refugees, I was both nervous and skeptical about beginning the work. Nervous, because I was an undergraduate majoring in anthropology who knew next to nothing about refugee law; skeptical, because, in the few years I’d spent in the United States, I’d learned how the rule of law is often employed as a smokescreen for institutionalized racism – from Nixon’s targeting of impoverished communities of color in his war on drugs, to the systemic brutality black men face at the hands of police today.

But the day I began my internship, I watched as the Innovation Law Lab scored a major legal victory in its suit against the Department of Homeland Security, winning a temporary restraining order that granted it access to the federal prison in Oregon where over a hundred immigrants were being detained. That day, I saw the rule of law being applied to ensure the dignity and security of over a hundred men who had been treated by the current administration as less than human, incarcerated without trial or conviction in blatant violation of their constitutional rights. And after that day, I worked with the Law Lab and saw several of those men through from their know your rights training, to their credible fear interviews (where their eligibility for asylum is determined), to their eventual release.

My internship is coming to a close, and I’ll admit I leave with a continued ambivalence towards the institution of the law in the United States. Its founding principles, couched in a language of equal rights and humanism, also effectively excluded indigenous and black Americans from its protections; nevertheless, those same principles have been rearticulated by activists of color to actually stand for the defense and dignity of all human beings. And with respect to immigration – on the one hand, the continued jurisdiction the executive branch has over immigration courts in the US allows decisions such as who qualifies for asylum to be swayed by the whims of whichever administration has power; on the other hand, the very principles of international refugee law were a powerful response to the atrocities of the Holocaust, holding nation-states accountable to ideals larger than the span of their individual territories.

But I’ve realized, too, that I started this internship missing a key point – forgetting that, as indomitable and opaque institutions such as the justice system may seem, they are ultimately forged from social relationships, and thus within our power to change. I think of Marx’s concept of alienation, where relationships between people are reinscribed as relationships between things, and where we subsequently forget the ways we are involved in the systems we inhabit. It’s this same alienation which prevented me from imagining the rule of law used as a tool for compassion – as a way to guarantee the safety of immigrants and the rights of refugees.

I’m frustrated, now, when headlines refer to the massive movement of migrants in response to persecution and strife as a “crisis” with murky origins – frustrated at the way it renders mass swathes of human beings into a problem to be solved or a security issue to be dealt with. And with the turns in the United States towards nativism and jingoism in response to the continuing arrival of refugees, I see a profound alienation at work. Because it’s not about the dilution of an abstract national identity or the supposed influx of a wave of criminals – no, how we respond to those who arrive at the border seeking safety and refuge is not a question of security, but a question of humanity.

So I guess, in other ways, immigration is a crisis – but a crisis of compassion. It’s a challenge to us to imagine a world where one’s fundamental rights are not dictated by the borders of one’s nation-state, the language on one’s passport, or the color of one’s skin. And it’s a challenge to the way we envision the institutions we hold dear – do we continue to employ the rule of law as a thinly veiled instrument of racism and sexism (as in Jeff Sessions’s decision to make it more difficult for Central and South Americans fleeing domestic violence to seek asylum), or do we fight for its just application (as in current litigation to have a private prison in Oregon stop its detainment of refugees) and for its empathetic reform?

Moving forward, too, we will have to confront the inadequacies of international refugee law, even as its just application has safeguarded millions from persecution. Can we, for example, recognize the ways in which economic disparities are also forms of global violence – say, expanding the current call to reunite families separated at the border to recognize the trauma faced by families also torn apart in places as varied as Nicaragua and the Philippines due to the demands of a remittance-based economy? Can we begin to prepare – with compassion – for the mass migrations that will result due to extreme changes in climate throughout the globe?

Perhaps much of this reform seems beyond imagining. Meaningful change in immigration law has stalled consistently in the United States due to partisanship and political polarization. But to say it is impossible is to forget that we are both participants in and drivers of social institutions; it is to resign ourselves to the way things are; it is to refuse to dream.

And in the wake of an increasing cynicism at the failure of globalization to deliver on its supposed promises of equity and prosperity; in the return to a rhetoric of racist nationalism among many countries in the West; international refugee law still stands as a powerful testament to our ability to imagine a humanity larger than ourselves and our borders. But we can do better, still – for today’s refugees and for the refugees of the future – so dream we must.

This blog post was written by Ethan Chua. Ethan was a summer intern at the Innovation Law Lab and is a junior at Stanford University studying anthropology. He is a published comic book writer and spoken word poet. This post was originally published on the Stanford Urban Studies & Urban Summer Fellowship blog.

Sheridan: When a Community Responds

by Stephen W Manning, Executive Director at the Innovation Law Lab and Mat Dos Santos, Legal Director at the ACLU of Oregon

In late May 2018, the Trump Administration imprisoned Karandeep Singh, and hundreds other men like him, because he had fled to the United States to seek asylum. The administration’s goal, as President Donald Trump stated, was to “immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases bring them back from where they came.”

Mass imprisonment and rapid deportation are supposed to be the new norm because, according to the president, immigrants “are animals.” The Trump Administration is actualizing its immoral and unlawful plan to deport immigrant communities of color en masse. Immigrants with legitmate asylum claims are being deported faster and in larger numbers than we’ve seen before.

Like more than 120 other asylum seekers, the administration locked Karandeep in a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, denied him access to lawyers – and therefore the law – and then was going to immediately deport him in spite of his legitimate claim to asylum. That was supposed to be it.

But, exactly 90 days after he was thrown in prison, Karandeep was freed from his cell in Sheridan to fight his asylum claim outside the electrified confinement of immigrant detention.

How did Karandeep get out of Sheridan?

Oregonians came together to provide necessary support for these asylum seekers in the best ways we each know how. We came together in the courts, on the streets, in the headlines, in our community, fighting for these men on both sides of Sheridan’s walls.

Grassroots organizations working within the Rights Architecture in Oregon deployed their best strategies, with their best hearts, and their clearest thinking to collectively defend Karandeep and all the men immorally imprisoned in Sheridan in order to build sustainable, inclusionary pathways for Oregon and everywhere.

Unidos Bridging Community, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) and others built solidarity outside the detention center with everyone inside the detention center through vigils, marches, and and public manifestations of connection, support, and hope. These actions kept what was happening in Sheridan in the headlines and in public consciousness, letting the men know the community supports them and letting the government know that their actions don’t align with Oregon’s values.

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Causa, and others activated a massive network of volunteers to engage in the challenging and vital work of defending everyone in detention so that no one was forgotten.

The ACLU of Oregon – in collaboration with attorneys from Stoll Berne – as well as the Federal Public Defender of Oregon broke open the Trump Administration’s attempt to isolate Karandeep and others from the law by fighting the government in federal court. The successful lawsuit finally paved the way for the asylum seekers to have access to attorneys from the Innovation Law Lab.

APANO, ROP, Unidos, and the newly-formed ICE out of Sheridan group established a special post-detention respite network to provide a welcoming einvironment and transportation from the doors of the detention center to a safe, sheltered, dignified space, allowing the men to recover from detention and build plans for onward travel to their family and sponsors. This crucial support network engaged several religious organizations, like the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple to St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, and dozens of community members.

And Oregon Ready, a statewide coalition of community organizations, collectivized attention on developing a lasting policy resolution to end asylum-seeker incarceration at federal prisons.

Karandeep’s journey is only partially complete. And many more immigrants of color are still confined within Sheridan and other facilites around the country. Yet when Karandeep walked out of Sheridan on August 21, he won an important victory in the long journey to protect the rule of law.

LawLab 5.2.0 is here!

In this age of mass incarceration and mass deportation, the work you do every day defending the rule of law through direct representation of noncitizens is critical. Your work and subscription to the LawLab platform supports innovative mass representation projects like the Sheridan Pro Bono Project, the Dilley Pro Bono Project, and many others.

You are highly committed and doing amazing work. This new version of LawLab will bring more clarity, connection, and control to you so that you can continue to win every meritorious case every time, everywhere.

LawLab 5.2.0 will be available to all existing LawLab customers in September. We’ve had 5.2 in beta at many of the pro bono projects. Our intrepid and overworked director, Stephen Manning, says “I cried the first time I used it: instant syncing, invoicing, workflows, and navigation. 5.2 has changed my life.” He is a bit melodramatic at times; though it is true that 5.2 brings a lot of major features to you.

Major Features

  • Billing & payments. LawLab integrates with Invoiced.com a solid, full-service invoicing portal with payment plans, online payment, quickbooks integration, trust accounting and more. Take a look here
  • Instant Calendar Syncing. No more waiting for Google to pick up your calendar changes.  Get instant notifications on your desktop and mobile through the Google Calendar apps.
  • Navigation and Consultation. Navigator Portal is a new feature built off our Interview application.For nonprofits and collaboratives, trusted, trained third parties can submit client referrals for review.  For firms, Navigator functions as a consultation screening system that regularizes data collection and facilitates case screening. It includes a fine-grained permissions system to allow you to specify separate teams for conflict checks and case review, and a specific communicants channel just for referrers.
  • Download all. Every document in a client record, downloaded with one click.

Minor Improvements

  • Icon refresh. Icons will load faster and look better on high resolution displays
  • Workflow indicators. Easily see which case actions and types will trigger workflows steps
  • Tooltips. Added more tooltips to help new users get started with LawLab
  • Easier subscription management. New Manage Subscription link visible for Administrator users in Settings.
  • Improved Search Navigation. Zoom directly to the search result in the client record view

Bug Fixes

  • Statistics reports now include Records without cases or case events.
  • Admins are no longer able to delete themselves or remove their admin permission
  • Convert to Party button is disabled if user lacks the permission
  • Unlink and delete party icons are now distinct in case register
  • Date selector would be obscured in some browsers
  • Fix interview print view that may contain non-latin characters
  • Many other small fixes

Licensing & Pricing Changes

Licensing. With 5.2, there is a new license. The Unlimited license will no longer be available to new subscribers; current Unlimited license holders will not be impacted. The 5.2 license is an active-user subscription: each active-user counts against a subscription.

Each user that is not disabled or limited will be counted as an active user for subscription purposes.  A single administrator account, which is not marked as “Show in list” may be permitted and will not contribute towards your active user count, to encourage you to have a separate user for Administration.  You will see a count of the subscribed seats and active seats at the top of each LawLab page.

Please ensure you have disabled any inactive users and that your subscription reflects your actual usage.  You may update your subscription here.

Pricing. A new pricing plan will be introduced in September. After 5.2’s release, current subscribers may add users at today’s per-user rate of $25 per user, per month. Unlimited subscriptions will no longer be available as an option for new or changed subscriptions. That is, if you don’t have unlimited before 5.2, then you won’t be able to get unlimited.  Today’s pricing will only be available during the 5.2 release. After 5.2 releases are completed, subsequent releases will only be available to subscribers using the new pricing plans.

The simple promise that ended mass deportation in Sheridan

A note from Sheridan: “You were the ray of hope that entered the window of my cell. May God bless you and give you health. We care for your very much.”

Dear friends,

The Trump Administration hatched a plan to deport as many immigrants as fast as they could. Their plan involves building the apparatus of mass incarceration, creating vast shadows of stigma over the immigrant community, and eliminating courts. When the administration decided to incarcerate more than 120 asylum-seeking men in the Sheridan federal prison, they were implementing a plan to stigmatize, incarcerate, and then rapidly deport. It was a pre-ordained conclusion.

Well, that was until you stepped in.

A month ago, the ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Innovation Law Lab and our client, Luis Javier Sanchez Gonzalez, in order for the Law Lab to obtain access to a single node in the apparatus of mass incarceration, the federal detention center in Sheridan, Oregon. Last week, the federal court granted a preliminary injunction securing our continued access. The Law Lab promised to represent everyone who needed and wanted a lawyer. Everyone.

And that simple promise broke the rapid deportation system in place at Sheridan. Although everyone was supposed to have been deported by now, every person represented by the Law Lab’s pro bono teams on the merits has won their fear claim. Everyone. And now it is time to get them out of detention and back with their families where they belong.

Since late June, more than 100 volunteers have:

  • Completed 101 legal screenings
  • Conducted 202 legal meetings
  • Defended clients at 85 credible fear interviews
  • Initiated release applications for every client
  • All of this in 9 languages
  • And WON every single fear claim. Every claim.

These men are still inside Sheridan. People who stood up for their beliefs, even when it put them in harm’s way. People who fled persecution from places like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mauritania. People seeking refuge from violent political battles playing out in different places in the world.

Today the first applications for release were filed. You can continue to support our efforts by making a gift, signing up to be part of the post-detention respite network, and joining public actions hosted by local advocacy organizations.

Thank you to the volunteers who have showed up in Sheridan and given their all and to the community members who have joined in marches and vigils, assuring the voices from Sheridan are heard. And special thanks to our community organization partners: the ACLU of Oregon, AILA, APANO, Causa, IMIrJ, and Unidos Bridging Community.

The Trump Administration sent immigrants to Sheridan in an attempt to deport them, to shut them off from legal counsel and the outside world. But because of YOU we have been able to alter the course of mass deportation in Sheridan, Oregon.

Sincerely,

The Innovation Law Lab Team

Legal Assistant

Job Title: Legal Assistant                                               Date: 11/12/2018
Category: Full time, permanent FLSA                         Status: Non-exempt

Innovation Law Lab (Law Lab) is a 501(c)(3) public benefit non-profit corporation focused on elevating humanity over fear. We combine technology and litigation to permanently end the mass incarceration and deportation of immigrants and refugees.
Law Lab is hiring a qualified, passionate legal assistant. The Legal Assistant provides support to the attorneys in order to accomplish our mission of ensuring justice in the immigration system. The Legal Assistant prepares applications, communicates with and interviews clients, and supports clients in moving through the immigration system. Applicants must live in Portland, OR.

To Apply: Please send an email with subject line: “Legal Assistant Application” with a resume and cover letter attached, describing your experience and why you believe you are a match for the position to jobs@innovationlawlab.org. Due date to submit applications is November 30th at 5pm PT

**Skills & Qualifications**
* The successful candidate should have these skills and aptitudes:
* Communicate fluently in English and have strong writing skills;
* Communicate proficiently in Spanish (must be fluent);
* Excellent word processing skills and demonstrated facility with major word processing software such as Microsoft Word or GoogleDocs;
* Able to follow detailed instructions;
* Passion for customer service and social justice;
* Self-starter and confident decision-maker;
* Strict attention to detail.
* A 4-year college degree is preferred;
* Prior office experience is preferred;
* Prior experience with social justice work is preferred.

**Salary & Benefits**
Salary will be set at an hourly rate commensurate with experience and skills with a base pay of at least $15.00/hour. We offer an excellent benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, 401(k), paid time off and public transportation subsidy.

BorderX Advocacy Coordinator

Posting Date: July 12, 2018                                                                                                          Open Until Filled

The Innovation Law Lab is pleased to announce the opening of a newly created position:

Border X Advocacy Coordinator:   Navigating Advocacy Issues and Post-Release Needs for Immigrants in Detention

The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator is responsible for organizing advocates for immigrants in detention, including family members, friends, and volunteer advocates.  The position collaborates with detained immigrants, attorneys, volunteer advocates, community organizers, and the families of immigrants in detention to promote justice for immigrants, with a focus on release from immigrant detention. The advocacy coordinator will work closely with community organizers to identify opportunities for effective advocacy campaigns, and find ways to support organizing efforts within detention centers.

Qualifications: We’ve built this job for someone with experience managing volunteers, working collaboratively, and maintaining strong relationships with national networks of advocates. A qualified candidate has experience organizing and working with vulnerable communities and – more specifically – experience advocating for the release of immigrants from detention.

In addition to those skills and experience, we are looking for someone with a deep passion for social justice issues, who demonstrates incredible teamwork and customer service skills, and who is ready, willing, and able to promote our mission for legal justice so that people may flourish.

Compensation and Benefits: Innovation Law Lab offers competitive salary and benefits. We currently pay the premiums for our employee’s Health, Dental, and Vision insurance offered through United Health Care after a mandatory waiting period. We also provide Paid Time Off benefits and a public transportation pass for our employees who work at or near our Portland Office.

Location and Travel: This position location is currently designated as Remote/Work from Home, which may change in the future depending on business need. In Remote/Work from Home designations, the selected candidate must have the ability to work full time from a remote location and/or their home, have continuous internet access and mobile/cell phone coverage, and be able to travel to our main office in Portland, Oregon or other U.S. locations for meetings when required.

The position is based in Portland, Oregon, with opportunities to work remotely.

To Apply: Please send an email with subject line: “BorderX Advocacy Coordinator Application” with a resume and cover letter attached, describing your experience and why you believe you are a match for the position to jobs@innovationlawlab.org

Job Description

Job Title: BorderX Advocacy Coordinator        Date: 7/28/18 (created)                           

Category: Regular Full Time        FLSA Status: Exempt

ORGANIZATION SUMMARY

Innovation Law Lab (Law Lab) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that ensures justice prevails so that people may flourish. The Law Lab creates collaborative systems driven by data and individual narrative to tackle the world’s greatest legal challenges.

JOB SUMMARY

The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator maintains strong relationships with national networks of attorneys and organizers to support ongoing efforts to defend the rights of immigrants and create resilient systems to promote justice for immigrants. The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator is responsible for organizing advocates for immigrants in detention, including family members, friends, and volunteer advocates who have been recruited and vetted by partner organizations. Responsibilities will include teaching advocates about immigrant detention, facilitating communication between advocates, identifying trends in different detention centers, collaborating with human rights organizations and attorneys who to support litigation efforts and public pressure campaigns focused on issues such as, but not limited to: inadequate medical care, forced labor, access to legal counsel, abuse and neglect by guards and ICE officers. The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator will work in close collaboration and communication with the Innovation Law Lab Program Director and BorderX Project Manager.

ESSENTIAL JOB DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Supports advocates in their efforts to provide financial, emotional, and logistical support to immigrants in detention
  • Develops and manages communication systems for advocates for detained immigrants
  • Compiles and, when necessary, creates educational materials for advocates on detention conditions, removal defense, Central American country conditions, history of US foreign policy and domestic policy as it relates to immigration, and other topics as identified
  • Works closely with Innovation Law Lab’s team to develop a vision and a strategy for our work to address the mass criminalization, detention, and deportation of immigrants
  • Communicates effectively with human rights attorneys to bring issues like those listed above to the attention of attorneys leading relevant litigation
  • Identifies and tracks detention center conditions and human rights violations

EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES

The following are the minimum levels required to successfully perform the Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities.

Required

  • One to three years of experience organizing volunteers and/or as a paralegal/legal assistant
  • A bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Social Work, Law, or related field or equivalent years of work experience
  • Ability to manage large volumes of communication and to identify opportunities for building litigation and/or political pressure
  • Must consistently demonstrate teamwork and positive day-to-day work relationships and interactions with staff, board members, members of the public, and community stakeholders

Preferred

  • Firsthand experience working or volunteering in immigrant detention/incarceration spaces as an advocate for immigrants and detainees
  • DOJ accreditation or similar experience
  • Applicants who have been directly impacted by immigrant detention are strongly encouraged to apply

WORKING CONDITIONS

Environment and Physical Requirements: The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator may work remotely in any part of the United States, with frequent travel to visit immigrants in detention centers, as well as legal partners providing direct services to immigrants in detention. The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator interacts with staff, visitors, vendors, government agencies, and others. The position sits, stands, walks, bends, lifts, stoops, and moves intermittently during working hours. The incumbent must be able to lift, push, pull and move files and other equipment in excess of 10 pounds.

Hours: The BorderX Advocacy Coordinator position is full time and works a minimum of 32 hours per week, although business need may require the incumbent to work significantly more hours during certain periods. This may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. The position is classified as exempt and is not eligible for overtime pay. As a point of reference, Law Lab’s typical “core” office hours are 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Thursday, and 8:30am to 4:00pm on Fridays unless changed by the Executive Director. The Executive Director approves the position’s actual scheduled hours, and determines if a set schedule is necessary.

Other Duties and Responsibilities: This job description is a summary of the essential duties and responsibilities for this job, and it does not necessarily represent an all-inclusive list of duties, responsibilities, tasks or procedures. Employees are required to follow any other job-related instructions and to perform any other job-related duties requested by any person authorized to give instruction or assignments. Nothing in this description restricts Law Lab’s right to assign or reassign duties at any time.

Accommodation Statement: Essential job duties and responsibilities are subject to possible modification to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. To perform the job successfully, an incumbent or applicant must possess the experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform each essential duty and responsibility proficiently. If you require an accommodation in order to perform the essential duties and responsibilities of this job, please contact the Law Lab Executive Director.

Innovation Law Lab is an Equal Opportunity Employer

BorderX Program Manager

Posting Date: July 27, 2018                                                                                                          Open Until Filled

The Innovation Law Lab is pleased to announce the opening of a newly created position:

Border X Program Manager: Release Strategist for Immigrants in Detention

The Border X Program Manager is responsible for collaborating with attorneys and families of immigrants in detention to create resilient systems to promote justice for immigrants, with a focus on release from immigrant detention.

Qualifications: We’ve built this job for someone with volunteer management and systems design experience. A qualified candidate has experience organizing and working with vulnerable communities and – more specifically – experience working collaboratively for the release of immigrants from detention.

In addition to those skills and experience, we are looking for someone with a deep passion for social justice issues, who demonstrates incredible teamwork and customer service skills, and who is ready, willing, and able to promote our mission for legal justice so that people may flourish.

Compensation and Benefits: Innovation Law Lab offers competitive salary and benefits. We currently pay the premiums for our employee’s Health, Dental, and Vision insurance offered through United Health Care after a mandatory waiting period. We also provide Paid Time Off benefits and a public transportation pass for our employees who work at or near our Portland Office.

Location and Travel: This position location is currently designated as Remote/Work from Home, which may change in the future depending on business need. In Remote/Work from Home designations, the selected candidate must have the ability to work full time from a remote location and/or their home, have continuous internet access and mobile/cell phone coverage, and be able to travel to our main office in Portland, Oregon or other U.S. locations for meetings when required.

The position is based in Portland, Oregon, with opportunities to work remotely.

To Apply: Please send an email with subject line: “BorderX Program Manager Application” with a resume and cover letter attached, describing your experience and why you believe you are a match for the position to jobs@innovationlawlab.org

Job Description

Job Title: BorderX Program Manager        Date: 07/28/2018 (created)                           

Category: Regular Full Time        FLSA Status: Exempt

ORGANIZATION SUMMARY

Innovation Law Lab (Law Lab) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that ensures justice prevails so that people may flourish. The Law Lab creates collaborative systems driven by data and individual narrative to tackle the world’s greatest legal challenges.

JOB SUMMARY

The BorderX Program Manager collaborates closely with the BorderX Advocacy Coordinator, Program Director, and BorderX partners in the development of release strategy for individual immigrants in detention, as well as the creation of resilient systems to promote justice for immigrants. The BorderX Program Manager organizes and facilitates collaborative efforts and communication between local attorneys, remote attorneys, and advocates towards increasing the capacity of legal service providers to request release for immigrants who have been incarcerated. The BorderX Program Manager will work in close collaboration and communication with the Innovation Law Lab Program Director and BorderX Advocacy Coordinator.

ESSENTIAL JOB DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Works closely with Innovation Law Lab’s team to develop a vision and a strategy for our work to address mass criminalization, detention, and deportation of immigrants;
  • Coordinates teams of attorneys and sponsors to produce high quality bond motions and requests for release on an expedited basis;
  • Works closely with advocates to compile necessary documents for bond motions and parole requests;
  • Uses LawLab to develop and manage systems and workflows for effective communication and collaboration for remote partners;
  • Works closely with the Program Director and Advocacy Manager to develop partnerships and identify opportunities to support legal service providers working within immigrant detention centers;

EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES

The following are the minimum levels required to successfully perform the Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities.

Required

  • One to three years of experience organizing volunteers and/or as a paralegal/legal assistant
  • A bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Social Work, Law, or related field, or equivalent years of work experience
  • Ability to manage large volumes of communication and to identify opportunities for building litigation and/or political pressure
  • Must consistently demonstrate teamwork and positive day-to-day work relationships and interactions with staff, board members, members of the public, and community stakeholders

Preferred

  • Firsthand experience working or volunteering in immigrant detention/incarceration spaces as an advocate for immigrants and detainees
  • DOJ accreditation or similar experience
  • Applicants who have been directly impacted by immigrant detention are strongly encouraged to apply

WORKING CONDITIONS

Environment and Physical Requirements: The BorderX Program Manager may work remotely in any part of the United States, with frequent travel to visit immigrants in detention centers, as well as legal partners providing direct services to immigrants in detention. The Program Manager interacts  with staff, visitors, vendors, government agencies, and others. The position sits, stands, walks, bends, lifts, stoops, and moves intermittently during working hours. The incumbent must be able to lift, push, pull and move files and other equipment in excess of 10 pounds.

Hours: The BorderX Program Manager position is full time and works a minimum of 32 hours per week, although business need may require the incumbent to work significantly more hours during certain periods. This may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. The position is classified as exempt and is not eligible for overtime pay. As a point of reference, Law Lab’s typical “core” office hours are 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Thursday, and 8:30am to 4:00pm on Fridays unless changed by the Executive Director. The Executive Director approves the position’s actual scheduled hours, and determines if a set schedule is necessary.

Other Duties and Responsibilities: This job description is a summary of the essential duties and responsibilities for this job, and it does not necessarily represent an all-inclusive list of duties, responsibilities, tasks or procedures. Employees are required to follow any other job-related instructions and to perform any other job-related duties requested by any person authorized to give instruction or assignments. Nothing in this description restricts Law Lab’s right to assign or reassign duties at any time.

Accommodation Statement: Essential job duties and responsibilities are subject to possible modification to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. To perform the job successfully, an incumbent or applicant must possess the experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform each essential duty and responsibility proficiently. If you require an accommodation in order to perform the essential duties and responsibilities of this job, please contact the Law Lab Executive Director.

Innovation Law Lab is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Legal access to continue in Sheridan

Today marks a crucial legal victory for Innovation Law Lab, as Judge Michael H. Simon granted our motion for a preliminary injunction, ensuring our clients detained in Sheridan continue to have access to legal counsel.

At the time of today’s hearing, 74 out of the 80 clients represented by the Innovation Law Lab had received positive determinations in their credible fear interviews. One client opted to forego his interview and return to his country of origin. Five decisions, for interviews that occured late last week, had yet to be issued.

The judge’s initial temporary restraining order undoubtedly had an effect on the efficacy of the credible fear process. Prior to his June 25 order, Innovation Law Lab attorneys, staff, and volunteers had been turned away from the facility numerous times, despite attempts to schedule visits with Bureau of Prisons and Immigration & Customs Enforcement staff ahead of time.

Once the court mandated access, the Innovation Law Lab quickly mobilized to provide “Know Your Rights” presentations to the majority of those detained, conduct over 100 screening interviews, hold over 150 additional one-on-one meetings, and enter into pro bono representation agreements with 80 individuals.

As the order expired this month, the Innovation Law Lab and our counsel, the ACLU of Oregon and Stoll Berne, made the decision to move forward in seeking a preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction assures that our attorneys and volunteers will continue to have regular access to meet with our clients in Sheridan, and assure that clients are not transferred to other facilities without our prior consent.

While the credible fear interview positive determinations mark a key step forward in our clients’  cases, there is still more work for attorneys, interpreters, and legal assistants to do. Ultimately, this preliminary injunction will allow us to move forward unimpeded with the important work of securing release for the immigrants being detained in Sheridan.

Kansas City attorneys and advocates win bond for 18-year-old in immigrant detention

After receiving repeated threats from a gang notorious in Honduras, Francisco* decided to make the long journey to the United States in search of refuge. The trip was not easy — some days he went without food and, at one point, he was robbed.

Once he arrived in the U.S., he was placed in a shelter for unaccompanied minors, but because he was 18-years-old, was eventually transferred to the Caldwell County Detention Center in Kingston, Missouri. An all-adult facility, Caldwell is over fifty miles northeast of Kansas City.

Right around the same time Francisco was transferred to Caldwell, the Deportation Defense Legal Network (DDLN) was officially launched by a group of legal advocates in Kansas City with the express purpose of providing legal representation to immigrants in bond hearings.

DDLN is a truly collaborative project consisting of community organizers, immigrant rights advocates, and local attorneys. It was formed in partnership with Innovation Law Lab, the Clinic at Sharma-Crawford, Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation (AIRR), El Centro, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) MO-KAN Chapter. Participating firms include Stinson Leonard Street, Polsinelli, Lathrop and Gage, and more.

Working with AILA attorneys, DDLN trains non-immigration attorneys to take on bond representation before the immigration court. Using the LawLab platform, DDLN collects referrals of bond-eligible cases from local immigration attorneys, organizations, and churches to facilitate case placement and assist in case management during the length of the case. DDLN also engages pro bono attorneys, interpreters, and community members to support and assist families impacted by ICE arrests.

Francisco’s family could not afford private legal representation. Without legal representation, an immigrant’s chances of winning release from detention and having a favorable bond set are unlikely.

When DDLN learned of Francisco’s case, they placed his bond case with a pro bono attorney. With the help of volunteer interpreters and remote volunteer legal assistants, the attorney was able to successfully argue for Francisco’s release from Caldwell.

Francisco’s bond was set at $3,000, a relatively low amount that may not have been possible without legal advocacy. After the bond was set, Free Our Neighbors, a NATIONAL advocacy organization, mobilized to cover the cost of his bond and a local pastor offered him a temporary place to stay until he could travel to meet his family in the United States.

Since Francisco’s bond was granted in mid-July, DDLN volunteers have successfully won bond for five individuals — a sign that the coordinated legal advocacy made possible by DDLN is working. And not only is DDLN set on winning individual cases, but along the way, aggregating data about detention conditions, bond amounts, judge decisions. This data will contribute to an even larger narrative of what the immigration court system looks like locally and nationally and help us focus in on hostile jurisdictions.

After leaving Caldwell, Francisco shared with Ramón Valdez, Innovation Law Lab program manager, that he looks forward to continuing his schooling and finding a job in construction.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy

If you live in the Greater Kansas City region and would like to be part of the Deportation Defense Legal Network, please contact Ramón Valdez, Program Manager, at ramon@innovationlawlab.org.

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