WHAT WE DO
The Adelante Pro Bono Project is a border rapid response initiative that helps people subject to the Migrant Protection Protocols (“MPP”) seek safety in the United States by finding them pro bono legal representation. MPP, commonly referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, forces asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for their U.S. immigration hearings. In Mexico, these migrants are extremely vulnerable to violence and exploitation. They are frequently extorted, kidnapped, raped and murdered. Sending asylum seekers to live in fear of persecution and torture violates the United States’ obligations under international law and the principle of nonrefoulement.
While somewhat promising in principle, the NRI process has proven to be incredibly difficult to navigate and nearly impossible to prevail in. The Adelante Pro Bono Project was formed to help balance the scales by improving access to counsel for those in need of NRIs. Our goal is to help ensure that asylum seekers—who have already sacrificed and risked so much to escape persecution and torture in their home country—can pursue asylum safely, free from fear of persecution and torture, so they can move forward with their lives.
DIRECT LEGAL SERVICES
Migrants can be removed from the MPP program if they pass a nonrefoulement interview (“NRI”) during which they demonstrate their fear of return to Mexico. NRIs are intended and represented to be a safeguard built into the MPP program to prevent migrants from being returned to a place where they are likely to be persecuted or tortured.
However, migrants who have been kidnapped, raped and tortured are routinely being sent back to Mexico despite the NRI "safeguard." We have observed that the interviews can be difficult to obtain, that the process is often opaque and confusing, and that migrants are being held to improperly high legal standards. Migrants can also seek humanitarian parole into the U.S. based on urgent and compelling circumstances.
The process is nearly impossible to navigate without an attorney. We advise represent individuals and families in NRI and parole requests.
PRO BONO PROGRAM
Fewer than 1% of people in MPP have access to counsel. Extreme danger, instability, lack of food and shelter and an international border make it exceptionally difficult for migrants to find attorneys—let alone pro bono attorneys—to represent them in proceedings related to MPP. There are a number of lawsuits across the United States challenging the legality and constitutionality of MPP, and the deliberate and blatant threat to due process that it poses. Migrants often have to wait months for their asylum claims to be adjudicated. With delays caused by COVID-19, months have stretched to years, all while living in dangerous and unsustainable conditions.
We have designed our program to build out pro bono legal capacity to serve people trying to escape the horror of MPP. The work is remote and discrete, and our team of experienced immigration advocates and pro bono mentoring attorneys is available to train, guide and provide technical assistance to our volunteer attorneys.
Join us in this fight for basic human rights and due process.