ATTORNEY OF THE DAY PROGRAM
The Attorney of the Day (AOD) program organizes SFILDC, nonprofit, and private attorneys who volunteer at the San Francisco Immigration Court. These attorneys conduct individual consultations, provide legal advice and referrals, help respondents navigate courtroom procedures, and advocate for them before the Immigration Judge. The AOD program began nearly 30 years ago and was coordinated by The Bar Association of San Francisco until 2017 when the Justice & Diversity Center, one of the SFILDC partners, assumed management of the program. The Justice & Diversity Center as part of the services offered through the AOD program provides unrepresented respondents with information or advise about how to access social services and refers them to local nonprofits for full-scope removal defense representation whenever is possible.
Since July 2014, the AOD program at the San Francisco Immigration Court has been the only program in the United States providing legal assistance to unrepresented immigrants in removal proceedings at the Immigration Court. The administration for the AOD program is largely financed by the SFILDC, with some funding provided by Santa Clara County. From July 2014 through August 2018, the AOD program provided assistance to over 8,800 individuals at the Immigration Court. The total number of individuals assisted is determined by the number of intake forms completed at court by attorneys of the AOD program. The total number of individuals who have been assisted at court may be higher because often AOD attorneys assist additional respondents or provide assistance to absent respondents without completing an intake form.
In 2017, the AOD program provided an attorney to assist respondents at every juvenile docket scheduled by the Immigration Court during that year. The juvenile dockets are specialized dockets for minors who are deemed “unaccompanied” by a parent or guardian at the border. The SFILDC focused the participation of its AOD attorneys on the juvenile dockets to promote the due process rights of one of the most vulnerable populations in removal proceedings. Between February 2017 and February 2018, SFILDC attorneys comprised 45% percent of attorneys volunteering at the juvenile docket. In particular, the Immigration Center for Women and Children, Kids in Need of Defense, the Central America Resource Center, and Dolores Street Community Services provided AOD services for juveniles in 2017. SFILDC attorneys from the University of San Francisco’s Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic and the Justice & Diversity Center, have also participated at the juvenile docket and non-detained adult dockets.
The expanded SFILDC funding in 2017 allowed the collaborative to support AOD services on the detained juvenile docket by Legal Services for Children. Between January 2017 and April 2018, Legal Services for Children provided 100% of the AOD coverage of the detained juvenile dockets and provided referral information or full-scope representation for 93 individuals.
SFILDC funding has also supported the creation of valuable new materials for pro se respondents and volunteer attorneys at the Court. These pro se materials have been shared for wider distribution with SFILDC’s community partners, such as Mission Neighborhood Health Center’s Behavioral Health Department, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Victim Services Unit, and the San Francisco Unified School District’s RISE Refugee and Asylee program. The SFILDC, through the AOD program, has also partnered with the Stanford Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic to create a pro se guide about how unrepresented respondents can advocate for the removal of their ankle shackles (ISAP program). These guides are available for all immigrants at the Immigration Court and for the public in general at the AOD program website.
LEGAL ORIENTATION PROGRAM FOR CUSTODIANS (LOPC)
The Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) is funded by the Executive Office of Immigration Review. The Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) provides orientations to minors in removal proceedings and their custodians at ICWC’s offices and at the Immigration Court. The orientations are intended to inform custodians of unaccompanied minors, recently released from detention and placed in removal proceedings, about their responsibility to ensure the minor’s appearance at all immigration proceedings and protect the minor from mistreatment, exploitation, and trafficking,
The Immigration Center for Women and Children and the Justice & Diversity Center have collaborated to create a “Informational Packet for Families” in Spanish, which is provided at the Court. The packet contains referral information for agencies throughout Northern California andinformation about respondents’ rights and eligibility for relief. The Justice & Diversity Center and the Immigration Center for Women and Children also communicate regularly regarding the scheduling of children’s dockets and issues relating to unrepresented respondents on the dockets. The Immigration Center for Women and Children communicates with unaccompanied minors and their guardians who are San Francisco residents in order to flag potential clients with urgent or emergency issues and refers them to the SFILDC for placement.