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NY State Bar Association honors volunteers who assisted ICE detainees

August 14, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The NYS Bar Association and its president Michael Miller recognized 50 volunteers who worked with the Albany County Sheriff’s office to assist asylum seekers who were detained by ICE officials last month. Photo courtesy of the NYS Bar Association
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The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) honored 50 volunteers from the Detention Outreach Project on Monday afternoon for their work screening U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees who were brought to Albany in July.

That group successfully screen 300 asylum-seekers from 38 countries who were uprooted from the southern border during the largest known transfer of refugees from the border into a single facility.

“You have blown me away by all that you’re doing,” Associate Judge Leslie E. Stein of the NYS Court of Appeals told the volunteers. “Access to justice is the touchstone of our judicial system and without it our system of laws would be meaningless. Without people like you, access to justice would be no more than an ideal.”

NYSBA President Michael Miller also thanked the volunteers and pointed out that the U.S., “is not just a place on a map, rather it is a set of ideals, based upon the rule of law.”

The asylum-seekers who were detained by ICE officials were moved from the southern border to the Albany County Jail where they were individually screened by volunteers, who were working with support of Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and his staff. The volunteers included lawyers, paralegals and interpreters.

The asylum seekers were prepared for their credible fear interviews, which is part of the process for seeking asylum. Camille Mackler, co-chair of NYSBA’s Committee on Immigration Representation and director of Immigration Legal Policy at the NY Immigration Coalition, said that more than 80 percent out of 141 individuals prepped for credible fear interviews passed.

“With such a deep well of willing attorney volunteers, I am confident that we will continue to restore due process where the Trump administration has sought to take it away,” said Sarah Rogerson, co-chair of NYSBA’s Committee on Immigration Representation and director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Albany Law School.

The asylum seekers who weren’t prepared for credible fear interviews were prepared for other issues such as conditions of transfer, attempts by the federal government to infringe upon due process, and unfounded allegations and misapplication of law by immigration agencies. DOP volunteers will also follow-up on individual issues requiring immediate attention and when possible, connect individual clients to legal representation for the remainder of their cases.

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