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 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.


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 (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.    


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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 & 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 (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. 

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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 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.