AILA Pro Bono High Five Q&A With CAIR Coalition Managing Attorney Bradley Jenkins

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)'s National Pro Bono Committee interviews Chapter Pro Bono Champions, asking them five questions to learn more about how they began doing pro bono work and the impact of their work. 

Bradley Jenkins is a managing attorney in the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition’s Detained Adult Program. Bradley started his career at CAIR Coalition as a legal assistant and BIA accredited representative. Before returning to CAIR Coalition, he managed pro bono programs and coordinated federal litigation at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP). Bradley has litigated several significant cases to advance the rights of immigrants, including Matter of L-E-A-, 28 I&N Dec. 304 (A.G. 2021), Albizures-Lopez v. Barr, No. 20-70640, 2020 WL 7406164 (9th Cir. Dec. 10, 2020); Leticia v. United States, No. 22-CV-7527, 2023 WL 7110953 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 27, 2023); A.E.S.E. v. United States, 1:21-cv-00569, 2022 WL 4289930 (D.N.M. Sept. 16, 2022); L.M.-M. v. Cuccinelli, 442 F.Supp.3d 1 (D.D.C. 2020); and Matter of Deang, 27 I&N Dec. 57 (BIA 2017). Bradley was a contributing author to the fifth and sixth editions of AILA’s Representing Clients in Immigration Court, and he frequently speaks on the topics of removal defense, appellate procedure, asylum, and federal litigation. Bradley is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is admitted to practice in the State of Maryland.

1. How did you get started with pro bono work?
Seventeen years ago, I got my start in immigration law as a legal assistant at CAIR Coalition. We rely on the generosity of pro bono attorneys to provide representation to detained, vulnerable people. 

2. Why do you do pro bono? What do you personally get out of doing pro bono work?
It is an immense privilege to use the set of skills that I've developed professionally to help others. All immigration law is a "helping profession" - we help people to confront a dizzyingly confusing and frightening tangle of laws and bureaucracy. Pro bono work enhances that sense of "helpfulness," as our pro bono clients frequently have nowhere else to turn for help navigating their immigration cases.

3. What has been your most rewarding experience and your most challenging experience doing this work?
The thing I love the most about the immigration bar is how collaborative we are. My most rewarding experiences -working to represent detained families in Artesia and pursuing a campaign to overturn Matter of L-E-A- and Matter of A-B---all involve the galvanization of the immigration bar to advocate for the more just and humane treatment of our neighbors. As for challenges -there's no shortage of challenges in immigration law generally. Because we don't shy away from challenging cases, we lose sometimes, and the deportation system is allowed to harm our clients.

4. What is a pro bono project you are currently working on that you are most passionate about?
I'm very pleased to have recently joined the Detained Adult Program at the CAIR Coalition. Detained immigrants are particularly vulnerable, and I'm glad to be focusing my work on serving them.

5. Do you have advice for other attorneys interested in taking on pro bono matters?
Pro bono comes in all sizes, and there's a pro bono project that fits your skills and capacity! Want to gain trial experience with the advice of an experienced mentor? Speak to your local nonprofit that does removal defense! Don't have the time to prepare for a full trial? Talk to your AILA Chapter Pro Bono Committee about brief advice-and-referral workshops. Concerned that you don't speak another language? Sign up to help with Citizenship Day! 


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