Human Rights First Expands Award-Winning Pro-Bono Asylum Representation Program
Washington, D.C. – In response to the recent increase of children and families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to flee violence in Central America, Human Rights First today announced that it will expand its pro bono asylum representation program. The organization’s award-winning program pairs refugees who are forced to flee their countries due to discrimination, persecution, or violence with pro-bono attorneys from top U.S. firms who can help those seeking asylum navigate the complicated immigration court system.
“We know that counsel is one of the most important ways to ensure that asylees receive a fair hearing and access to protection,” said Human Rights First’s Hardy Vieux. “The increase of children and families requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border has placed a strain on the already-stretched asylum system and made the need for counsel even more dire. Human Rights First is proud to be able to increase our offerings to ensure that those who have fled violence and persecution are able to navigate the immigration system.”
Recent data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) shows that more than 90 percent of children attend their immigration hearings when represented by lawyers. Multiple studies have documented that immigrants who are represented by counsel are more likely to succeed in their asylum or immigration proceedings.
Human Rights First’s expanded services were made possible by a grant from The JPB Foundation, and will increase the organization’s capacity to provide legal and social assistance with nine full-time positions in the New York, Washington, D.C., and Houston offices.
For 35 years, Human Rights First has connected unrepresented asylum seekers with pro bono attorneys. The organization’s pro bono asylum program utilizes a distinct model in which attorneys are recruited, trained, and mentored by Human Rights First’s expert legal team. Working with Human Rights First’s refugee representation program, attorneys from firms across the nation donate over 60,000 hours of their time annually — a donation the equivalent of more than $33 million in legal fees — to helping asylum clients. Pro bono attorneys also provide invaluable support to Human Rights First in other ways, including preparing amicus curiae briefs in cases involving important issues of international human rights law.