powered by Paladin & The Chicago Bar Foundation

Representation in Defensive Asylum Cases

Volunteer attorneys represent defensive asylum applicants at their Master Calendar Hearings preliminary hearings similar to arraignment hearings in criminal cases or status conferences in civil cases—and their Merits Hearings—the actual trial date during which an immigration judge will take testimony, give the applicant an opportunity to provide evidence, and allow for cross-examination by the government’s attorneys. A typical merits hearing lasts half a day and involves the direct examination of 1–2 witnesses, including the client, and possibly an expert regarding the client’s medical/psychological condition or conditions in the applicant’s country of origin. Prior to the hearing, volunteer attorneys prepare a trial brief and the same documentation required for an affirmative asylum case (see description above).

National Immigrant Justice Center is dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers including unaccompanied immigrant children and survivors of domestic abuse and violent crimes. NIJC provides direct legal services as well as policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.

Type of engagement

Litigation

Time commitment

Completion of required 3-hour training, then at least 75–100 hours over a period of several months to 3 years.

Training and support

New pro bono attorneys must attend an in-person asylum training before taking a case. NIJC also offers ongoing support and an online resource library.

  • Training is provided and required
  • CLE credit for training

Acquired skills

Case management, client counseling, client/witness interviewing, motion practice, trial skills, writing/drafting

Skills and resources required

Law firm support preferred due to the extensive time commitment and expenditure of resources needed for asylum cases.

Location

Chicago, IL

Representation in Defensive Asylum Cases

Volunteer attorneys represent defensive asylum applicants at their Master Calendar Hearings preliminary hearings similar to arraignment hearings in criminal cases or status conferences in civil cases—and their Merits Hearings—the actual trial date during which an immigration judge will take testimony, give the applicant an opportunity to provide evidence, and allow for cross-examination by the government’s attorneys. A typical merits hearing lasts half a day and involves the direct examination of 1–2 witnesses, including the client, and possibly an expert regarding the client’s medical/psychological condition or conditions in the applicant’s country of origin. Prior to the hearing, volunteer attorneys prepare a trial brief and the same documentation required for an affirmative asylum case (see description above).

National Immigrant Justice Center is dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers including unaccompanied immigrant children and survivors of domestic abuse and violent crimes. NIJC provides direct legal services as well as policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.

Type of engagement

Litigation

Time commitment

Completion of required 3-hour training, then at least 75–100 hours over a period of several months to 3 years.

Training and support

New pro bono attorneys must attend an in-person asylum training before taking a case. NIJC also offers ongoing support and an online resource library.

  • Training is provided and required
  • CLE credit for training

Acquired skills

Case management, client counseling, client/witness interviewing, motion practice, trial skills, writing/drafting

Skills and resources required

Law firm support preferred due to the extensive time commitment and expenditure of resources needed for asylum cases.

Location

Chicago, IL