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 immigrant residents of San Francisco. Attorneys and advocates help these immigrants 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), and technical assistance is provided to the attorneys by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.
The SFILDC also provides ongoing assistance to unrepresented respondents at the Immigration Court. The Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco coordinates the Attorney of the Day program to provide volunteer attorneys to unrepresented immigrants during status hearings in the San Francisco Immigration Court. The volunteer attorneys inform immigrants of what immigration benefits may be available to them, advise them of their rights, and provide referrals and informational materials to them. SFILDC attorneys participate regularly in the Attorney of the Day Program along with other local non-profits and members of the private bar. Through this program, we identify San Francisco residents in need and refer them to organizations that may be able to provide full-scope representation.
One of the partner agencies, the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) provides the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) for Unaccompanied Minors for the San Francisco Immigration Court’s jurisdiction. The LOPC program is funded by the Immigration Court (EOIR). Through the Legal Orientaiton Program, ICWC communicates with unaccompanied minors and their guardians who are San Francisco residents, flags any potential clients with urgent or emergency issues, and refers them for SFILDC placement.
TRAINING & EDUCATION
The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco (JDC) leads and hosts monthly meetings during which SFILDC 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. JDC also hosts a list serve for attorneys working on surge docket cases and provides legal strategy guidance to the agencies who participate in direct representation.
The Center for Gender & 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 training on a range of different topics specific to deportation defense, especially the special remedies available for immigrant children and youth.
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 & Refugee Studies.
ADVOCACY & OUTREACH
Schools: We work closely with faculty and staff in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), especially its Caminos program, to identify students in need of legal services with representation. We provide trainins 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.
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 to advocate on their behalf in the event they are detained by ICE. Since early 2017, the SFILDC and the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network (SFILEN) have worked together to craft an effective response system to aid immigrants who are the targets of ICE enforcement activity. SFILEN performs an initial intake when there is a report of enforcement activity via the 24 hour hotline (415-200-1548), verifies that an enforcement action has taken place, and mobilizes community support. SFILDC provides legal assistance to the detainees and their family members.
Once we receive information about an arrest, SFILDC organizations provide assistance to detainees and their families through information and advocacy. SFILDC educates detainees about their legal rights and options. If legal assistance is desired, SFILDC attorneys represent detainees request release from custody and prevent transfer to outside jurisdictions.
SFILDC actively supports the development of regional rapid response networks. SFILDC has shared its legal and informational materials with other rapid response networks and attorneys. Its structure and materials have been used as a model to develop rapid response networks in other cities in the Bay Area as well as across the state and nation.