We are Columbia Law students participating in the Immigrants' Rights Clinic. In January 2015 we traveled to Dilley, Texas to represent refugee mothers and children fleeing domestic violence, gang violence, persecution, torture, and discrimination. Though our clients have bona fide asylum claims they will be kept in detention indefinitely unless they are able to post bond.
In January, each of us advocated on our clients' behalf by demonstrating to the court that they are good people who are not flight risks and have come to the United States to live their lives in safety and with dignity. Unfortunately, all of our cases were assigned to a judge who is openly hostile to claims of asylum generally and, more specifically, to the women and children who have ultimately decided to abandon their homes and make the dangerous trip to the U.S. in search of safety. Despite our best efforts this judge set unreasonably high bonds for our clients, claiming, with no evidence, that they each represent a threat to national security. Unsurprisingly, these bonds are far too high for these women to pay. As a result they end up stuck in detention without access to counsel, which greatly increases the likelihood that they will lose their asylum claim.
These women and children each have the right under both domestic and international law to present their asylum claims. It is imperative that we help them raise their bond money so that they are released to their sponsors in the United States and are able to pursue their claims before a (hopefully) more conscientious, humane judge.
I also work with clients in immigration detention, as I'm sure some of you do as well, and this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I know many of you may not be in a position to donate, or simply aren't the donating type, which I completely understand! But if you would share this with people you think might be interested, that would be wonderful.