OUR WORK



DIRECT REPRESENTATION & LEGAL ASSISTANCE

Twelve partner organizations of the SFILDC - Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, African Advocacy Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Central American Resource Center, Dolores Street Community Services, Immigration Center for Women and Children, La Raza Centro Legal, La Raza Community Resource Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Legal Services for Children, Pangea Legal Services, and the USF Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic - together represent over 1,000 adults and children living in San Francisco. The attorneys help these children and families present their cases before the Immigration Court and immigration agencies, and access other critical support services. The initial intake and referral of these cases is centralized through The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco (JDC). 

The SFILDC also provides ongoing assistance at the Immigration Court to unrepresented respondents.  The Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco created a specialized Attorney of the Day program to ensure that no child appears before an Immigration Judge and prosecutor without legal assistance.  SFILDC attorneys participate regularly along with other local non-profits and members of the private bar.  Through this program, we're able to identify San Francisco residents in need and match them with an organization for full-scope representation.

One of the partner agencies, the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) is also the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) for Unaccompanied Minors provider for the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Immigration Court. The program is funded by the Immigration Court (EOIR).  Through LOPC, ICWC is able to reach out to unaccompanied minors and their guardians who are San Francisco residents, flag any potential clients with urgent or emergency issues, and refers them for SFILDC placement.


 CERTIFICATES OF HONOR ARE PRESENTED TO UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN DURING A SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, ON SEPT. 16, 2014. PHOTOGRAPHER: DAVID PAUL MORRIS/BLOOMBERG
I can’t thank you enough but I hope you know how much working with you has meant to me. You will be in my heart forever.
— Unaccompanied child served by University of San Francisco's Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic

TRAINING & EDUCATION

  • The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco leads and hosts monthly roundtables during which attorneys share case strategies and outcomes, raise challenges encountered in their cases, and educate each other about valuable medical, psychological, and social services available to clients; hosts a list serve for attorneys working on surge docket cases; and provides legal strategy guidance. 

  • The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies provides cutting-edge training and technical assistance focused on asylum law, including case-specific guidance and in-depth mentoring, sample briefs, and materials to help build the evidentiary record.

  • The Immigrant Legal Resource Center provides introductory and advanced trainings on a range of different topics specific to deportation defense, especially the special remedies available for immigrant children and youth.    


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Client was granted asylum today! The Immigration Judge ended up granting on humanitarian asylum after very little testimony. She appreciated how well prepared the docs were—including declaration, country conditions, and mental health evaluation.

They would have been nowhere as good without your assistance, so thank you so much. Your assistance was crucial.
— Attorney assisted by Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

PRO BONO MENTORSHIP & SUPPORT

Through our two pro bono leads - Kids in Need of Defense, and Legal Services for Children -- we provide mentorship and case support to pro bono attorneys who want to support immigrants.  Pro bono attorneys are also able to access the expertise of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies

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I think it should be a requirement for all attorneys in private practice to do what we can to close the access to justice gap in real, tangible ways. Sometimes, however, we don’t quite know how to do it; we need a helping hand to guide our efforts. I am grateful to Carol Bisharat for providing me an opportunity to represent two young girls as they seek asylum in the United States, and for offering guidance and assistance whenever I need it as we try to put forth the best possible case for these two incredible clients.
It is a privilege to be able to continue doing this work and have the support and guidance of Carol and her team at KIND. One of the girls recently told me that she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up. I can’t think of a better endorsement for the work Carol and KIND do!
— Kristen Rogers, Farella Braun & Martel

ADVOCACY & OUTREACH

Schools: We work closely with faculty and staff in the San Francisco Unified School District, especially its RISE program, to identify students in need of legal services with representation. We provide trainings as needed to SFUSD educators and parents about the nature of immigration proceedings for youth and the best ways to support students who are facing deportation.

ISAP: Many of our clients are on the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), which involves mandated phone and in-person meetings with supervision officers, stringent curfews and travel restrictions, and electronic ankle monitors. Though this supervision program, considered an “alternative to detention,” is intended to be a more humane option, we are concerned by the arbitrary and inconsistent use of this program, and the threats that ISAP poses to individuals’ physical and psychological well-being.  With other local partners, we are engaged in advocacy on this issue on behalf of our clients.

We also support and conduct advocacy on other issues of importance to the children and families we serve. 

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SFILDC has been a platform for community members to engage in advocacy issues arising from their own cases. Nelly is a great example of this. A single mother with 3 children, Nelly fled Honduras after gang members killed her husband and her sister. On the same weekend that the ICE raids against the Central American community were announced [in December 2015], Nelly learned that her neighbor in Honduras had just been killed. She decided to speak out against the raids and shared her story publicly at a vigil in San Francisco. Pangea Legal Services supported Nelly through the process and empowered her to voice her opinions.
— Niloufar Khonsari, Executive Director of Pangea Legal Services

RAPID RESPONSE

The San Francisco Rapid Response Network is comprised of 21 community-based organizations that provide education services and legal representation to protect the due process rights of San Francisco residents and in the event they are detained during immigration enforcement activities. Since early 2017, the SFILDC and the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network (SFILEN) have been working closely and intensively on rapid response. SFILEN focus on the initial intake through the 24 hour hotline (415-200-1548), the enforcement action verification, and community support. SFILDC focus on providing a legal response if anyone is detained as a result of the enforcement action.

More than 40 attorneys, paralegals, and supporting staff from the SFILDC are involved in the rapid response efforts. SFILDC organizations have provided detainees and their families with legal information, and legal assistance in securing their release from immigration custody, including bond hearings before the Immigration Court. They ensure that detainees are aware of their legal rights and options. If legal assistance is desired, attorneys will advocate on the detainee’s behalf for release from custody, or if release is denied, to prevent their transfer to other jurisdictions.

The SFILDC is commitment to support the development of regional rapid response networks. Legal and informational materials developed by the SFILDC have been made available to other rapid response networks and attorneys to be used as a model for efforts in other cities in the Bay Area, across the state, and the nation.

Since February of 2017, the SFILDC has responded to more that 60 request for assistance. The SFILDC has responded to every emergency requests from SFILEN and responded to emergency requests coming from regional rapid response networks when resources permitted.