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Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc.

Asylum Seekers

You will change the life of an individual or family. Perhaps you will even save that life.

Posted March 9, 2021

Background & Context

The previous presidential administration enacted the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) more commonly known as Remain in Mexico for those who came to the U.S. - Mexico Border at the beginning of 2019. These asylum seekers would have to await their Immigration Court appearances in Mexico (for Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services these asylum seekers remained in Ciudad Juarez, right across from El Paso.) This proved problematic on several fronts as Ciudad Juarez remains a city ripe with drug cartels, kidnappings, and other dangerous situations, especially for these vulnerable asylum seekers. We are currently seeing MPP 2.0 as we call it. There are also cases for Title 42 Exemptions.


Immediate Problem

This project will allow Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services (DMRS) Staff Attorneys in the Removal Defense Unit to assist more clients in need of legal immigration representation.

Work & Deliverables

After receiving a new referral, we call the client and do the intake to determine if we should take it. When we accept the case, we send the client the contract and grievance procedure along with the G-28 for them to review and sign. After this step, we ask them to write a declaration, which is a long statement explaining exactly what happened to them in their home country. Essentially the who, what, where, when, and why behind their reasons for seeking asylum. Along with the declaration, we ask for evidence, identity documents, if they have any friends/family in the US who would sponsor them, and the legal assistant begins researching country conditions. The first court hearing for an MPP case is a Master Calendar Hearing (MCH), which is scheduled after DHS files the Notice to Appear (NTA). This could be scheduled as far out as 11 months from when the client received the NTA. Before the MCH, the representation will file Pleadings to the allegations and charges on the NTA along with the I-589 Asylum Application. During the MCH, the client will be made aware of their rights and the Individual Hearing (IH) will be scheduled, which is where the decision to grant asylum or not will be decided. Prior to the IH, the attorney and legal assistant will gather evidence to supplement the I-589 in the form of a call up. A call up is a large packet that includes everything we have gathered for the client’s case, i.e. declarations, identity documents, photos, Notice of Hearings, Notice to Appear, country condition articles and reports, etc. The call up is submitted to the courts 15 days prior to the IH.

Project Plan

Preparation Phase

  • Volunteers will undergo an interview and orientation before they start to work.
  • Volunteers will also meet with pertinent Staff Attorneys/Legal Assistants in the Removal Defense Uni

Collaboration Phase

  • Full client representation

Wrap Up

Details to be provided at a later date

This project is complete!

This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

Visit the Project Directory to check out other projects that still need your help!

Additional Information

  • Time Commitment: 21+ hours
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Additional Training Details: Volunteers will receive training as needed, as well as be given access to immigration manuals and updates on current asylum law, policies, and procedures.
  • Site-Preference: Remote
  • Open to Law Students: No
  • Additional Location Details: All work can be done remotely. Representation in the El Paso Immigration Court is currently being done telephonically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Bar License(s) required: Any Bar License
  • Required Languages: Spanish
  • Required Legal Expertise: Immigration
  • Mentoring Provided: Yes
  • Supervision Provided: Yes
Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc.

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. (DMRS) is a ministry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso. DMRS began serving the immigrant community in 1986 in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and in 1990 obtained Agency Recognition from the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide representation in deportation hearings. In 1991, DMRS became an independent non-profit corporation and in its 34-year history has grown to become the largest and most comprehensive provider of free and low-cost immigration legal services in West Texas and New Mexico. Our mission is to “provide legal services to immigrants and to engage in public advocacy and community outreach to advance justice and protect the rights of those we serve in the spirit of gospel values.” The provision of free and low-cost legal services is vital to ensure access to justice for those who cannot otherwise afford it, and who could not then navigate the complicated and stressful immigration system by themselves. DMRS is the only organization in El Paso providing a comprehensive range of services to the immigrant community. These services include providing representation in family-based immigration cases, representation to survivors of domestic violence, trafficking and other crimes, representation of individuals seeking United States Citizenship, and representation of individuals before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) who are in removal (deportation) proceedings. In addition, DMRS provides Know -Your- Rights presentations to individuals, including unaccompanied minor children, detained in the local immigration detention centers and shelters. Besides providing direct legal representation to its clients, DMRS' staff attorneys and accredited representatives conduct outreach presentations to the immigrant community in an effort to educate about the protections and benefits available to them under the law.

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