UPDATE: Lawyers for Good Government

♦️Project Corazon♦️



I am honored to share with you some of the impressions of Veronica Walther-lawyer, volunteer, hero-as she spends her 4th of July not with her friends and family, but with immigrants detained at the Karnes facility in Texas.
It’s after midnight, I just finished typing up my case notes, and I swear it’s been at least 2 days since last night’s log. No? Just one day? Okay. Time is weird when you’re in a temperature-controlled windowless room all day.
This morning I showed up to Karnes earlier and ready to go for my 10am hearings. We didn’t start until nearly 11am. I ended up getting my case files around 11pm last night so there was a lot of quick review and prep to do, as I had the first 3 hearings on the docket calendar.
The hearings were reviews of negative credible fear interview findings. Basically, a judge checks to see if there are sufficient grounds for a credible fear determination. All the cases we had were affirmed, which means the judge agreed with the denial.
My first is an indigenous woman from Guatemala and speaks K’iche' and very, very little Spanish. As she was brought into the “courtroom” while we were waiting to start, I tried my best to explain the delay, holding up 10 fingers when we were told we’d start in 10 minutes.
Interpretation was done by phone and was cut off about 20 minutes into the proceeding. We had to wait several minutes to be reconnected, while I tried to reassure my client without being able to speak her language. “Hold tight” is a tough message to convey.
We got through the review, the decision was affirmed (we lost) and I asked my client to come back to the visiting room so we could discuss it later. Everyone has what I call an exit interview, but I wanted to meet with this client directly, as I did not feel that she understood.
The other two cases were also affirmed (losses). One woman took the news quietly. Another broke down and sobbed. It is not easy, but I was glad to be in the “courtroom” with these women. I feel that having your attorney present, a caring body next to you, makes a huge difference.
After my hearings, I went to the visitation room. You come through security at the main entrance, down a hall to an unsecured door to a break room. There are vending machines, but no water for sale (we were told not to drink the water at the facility, it has made volunteers sick)
A few of the doors are tiny private meeting rooms, some with phones to reach a telephonic interpreter. One of the doors is to a waiting-type room, where women come after they’re called and wait on plastic chairs for us to be ready for them.
Client meetings are constant - you finish with one and are on to the next. Then kids would come in and play with baby dolls and brightly colored toys while we discussed abuse, assault, threats, rape, and other life-changing matters with their moms.
Appointments for the day were one of four types:

Intakes - initial information gathering for new RAICES clients, getting their background and starting to understand their story and their claims.
Credible Fear Interview (CFI) prep - diving deep into stories, sussing out the basis of asylum claims, attempting to prepare the women to explain their stories in a direct, clear manner while hitting on the elements needed to get a positive Credible Fear Interview finding.
Getting a positive CFI means you can leave the detention center and have the opportunity to present your asylum claim at a full evidentiary hearing in the future.
IJ review prep - reviewing the cases of women who received negative CFI determinations and who have requested that an immigration judge review this determination. This is another deep dive into their stories, particularly into the elements that were missed at the interview.
IJ reviews are cursory and how they are handled is very judge-specific. In these preps we are trying to work through detailed stories of terrible trauma in order for women to meet very legal specific requirements that need to be proved to the judge - no pressure.
Deportation advisals - If a judge affirms the negative CFI, that is usually the end of the road. The deportation advisal is meant to give information about next steps, issues with future claims and entries to the US, and help them thinkabout what they will do when deported.
In my limited experience, the women did not understand what had happened in court so I was the one explaining that they had lost their case and were soon to be deported. This is, to say the least, difficult.
You come in to speak with a woman you’ve likely never seen before tell her some of the worst news of her life. You explain that even though she left everything behind and risked literal life and the lives of her children, she did not meet some obscure legal point.
She is out of options. She is not even allowed to present her case for asylum to a judge. You don’t tell her, but you know that from the moment she set off for the US, she was doomed to lose.
The treacherous journey to escape the terrible conditions she faced, the maltreatment and harshness she suffered-all in hopes of being allowed to start a safe life for her family-has all come to this point where I, some strange woman, tell her that the USwill send her back.
The K’iche' woman I mention above was my last client for deportation advisals today. We worked mostly through a phone interpreter, a terribly impersonal way to explain this difficult, delicate situation.
The advisal was long, as it was difficult to understand my client between sobs. Her 8 year old daughter was also in the room and sobbing, finally crawling, face down, half under the table and half in mom’s lap so I could just see her tiny shoulders shaking uncontrollably.
She kept asking me how, how, how could the government send her back to Guatemala? She is not only afraid for her life, she is very poor and a single mother. She has no home, no money. She borrowed money to make the journey and will never be able to pay it back.
She will have no food for her or her daughter, no clothes, no family to depend on. What was she supposed to do? How could we possibly send her back? How would she and her daughter survive, even if they are not killed by the person who threatened her in the first place?
I had no answers. I never will.

All I could do was try to hold space for them to grieve with a stranger, but a stranger who cared more than they will likely ever know. All I could do was give them a tissue and try to will them some strength and grace for their difficult future.
As for myself, I keep repeating my current mantra: hacemos lo que podemos con lo que tenemos. It is what I have to do, it is all I can do. It will never be enough.

#L4GG #RAICES #Karnes
Thank you, Veronica. Thank you for caring enough to travel down to Texas, and putting your legal skills at work in an attempt to help immigrants seeking asylum.

Please donate to Project Corazon. Every dollar helps the people who need it most.

I am a proud board member of Lawyers for Good Government.

Never give up. Never give in.

Always #resist

And have a safe, happy 4th of July.

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More from @axidentaliberal

Sep 12, 2018
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Torture and Perjury:

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Aug 24, 2018
UPDATE: Lawyers for Good Government

♦️Project Corazon♦️

More reports from Dilley, Texas

Courtesy of L4GG member Pam Woldow and her husband Doug Richardson

Please support Protect Corazon by texting CORAZON to 91999


We first thought Dilley isn’t inherently evil-just a large, emotionless machine running on bureaucratic inertia. Now we learn that for some, that’s not true. For them, Dilley is a torture chamber, built to cause the most extraordinary pain and exert devastating control over women
We have yet to see a single drug dealer, gang member or vandal bent on a life of crime in the US. That’s what they’ve risked their lives to escape, not what they intended to bring to America. And yet we expend enormous resources to keep these victims from victimizing us.
Read 11 tweets
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Lawyers for Good Government’s

♦️Project Corazon♦️

Reports from Dilley, Texas, courtesy of L4GG member Pam Woldow and her husband, Douglas Richardson

To support us, please text CORAZON to 91999

Men working at Dilley have to tread carefully, because many of their clients’ pains and indignities stem from their oppressed relationships with the men in their lives: abusive husbands, gang members, drunken relatives, indifferent police and government, and snakeheads.
It is therefore no surprise that some of the women receiving Credible Fear Interview preparation are reluctant to have a man sitting in on their prep team, are reluctant to reveal painful intimacies to men whose supportive attitudes and good will may seem foreign to them.
Read 11 tweets
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Jul 21, 2018
UPDATE: Lawyers for Good Government’s

♦️Project Corazon♦️

to reunite families separated by the Trump administration and providing legal assistance to those seeking asylum.


We are now a coalition of 40+ large law firms and non-profit organizations, 6,000+ volunteer lawyers across the country, 2,000+ translators, social services providers, and others, all working together to address not only the immediate family separation crisis and asylum issues.
Last week, we launched our remote legal services project, drafting five "Request for Reinterview" briefs in under 12 hours for mothers who are separated and detained. This week, we are working to help drafting of as many as 350 Motions for Reconsideration for separated parents.
Read 10 tweets

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