Detained Adult Program

CAIR Coalition's Detained Adult Program (DAP) works with the hundreds of adults detained by ICE in the Capital region each year, providing information, support, and legal representation. We provide trauma-sensitive, client-centered services and deeply value our clients' autonomy as they navigate the fundamentally inhumane immigration system. 

Since 2003, our DAP staff has been a source of expertise in the highly complex and ever-changing immigration system. They have persisted through administration changes, policy shifts, and attacks on the rights and freedoms of our immigrant neighbors. DAP is committed to the creation of a fundamentally more welcoming future for all – a future free from detention, and where all immigrants have access to legal representation. 

Where We Work



Jail Visits

Each year, we conduct dozens of visits to two detention facilities in Virginia.

There, we meet individuals, including long-time green card holders, parents seeking to return home to their children in the US, and arriving asylum seekers who survived torture and persecution in their countries of origin. Confined in detention, most are unable to access legal information or hire private attorneys.

COVID-19 note: During the pandemic, we conducted remote visits and hybrid remote and in-person visits. As of summer 2023, we will return to a fully in-person jail visit schedule.  


Legal Orientation Program

CAIR Coalition is among the dozens of nonprofits that provide Legal Orientation Program (LOP) services in approximately 50 detention centers nationwide. Distinct from direct counsel, LOP provides information to unrepresented immigrants in detention, about their rights and about the immigrant court process, so that people in detention can make informed decisions about their legal cases. Our LOP team also works to connect unrepresented people to pro bono counsel whenever possible. This program is funded by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and is administered by the Vera Institute of Justice. 



Each year, LOP conducts approximately: 


400 Know Your Rights Presentations


4,000 Individual Orientations


200 Pro Se Workshops, & Assistance to over 250 adults



2,000 Intake Reviews

  • Each year, we conduct visits for pro se people (individuals without legal representation) to better equip them to develop and defend their own cases in immigration court.
  • Pro se immigrants must navigate a complex and convoluted legal system: they must cross-examine witnesses, secure country condition reports, file exhibits, translate documents, and more. Many must also navigate all of this in a language that is unfamiliar to them, or in which they are not fully fluent. 
  • During pro se assistance, our legal assistants and attorneys conduct follow-ups, where they contact clients' family members for declarations, translate documents, and/or conduct research on country conditions, for pro se people to use in their immigration cases.
  • During intakes, CAIR Coalition staff members review individual cases and determine the next course of action for each case, such as a pro bono referral or a follow-up. 


Universal Representation Program

CAIR Coalition’s Universal Representation (URep) programs – some of the first in the nation – provide free in-house legal representation to some immigrants in detention who are residents of the District of Columbia (DC) and Maryland. URep attorneys represent Maryland and DC residents detained locally in Virginia facilities as well as those detained in Pennsylvania and Georgia—at some of the largest ICE detention facilities in the country. In doing so, they provide critical access to counsel to many members of our community who would otherwise go without representation. 


Pro Bono Partners

In addition to in-house counsel, we place hundreds of client cases with our pro bono partners, who play a crucial role in this process. We partner with law firms, corporate legal departments, law school clinics, and other non-profits to leverage the work of our staff and volunteers. Together, we provide tens of thousands of hours of free legal assistance to immigrants in detention facilities in Virginia and Maryland.

If you would like to support the work of the Detained Adult Program as a pro bono partner, click here.

National Qualified Representative Program

CAIR Coalition is a national expert in the National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP). Through NQRP, CAIR Coalition serves as court-appointed legal representation for otherwise unrepresented immigrants in detention who have severe mental or developmental disabilities. Many of the people we work alongside have survived persecution or violence in their countries of origin. Ensuring high-quality legal representation in their immigration cases allows for more fair court proceedings. 

Client Stories


Javier's Story

Javier* is a young man who deeply loves his family and is especially close to his mother. When he was a child, he fled his country of origin because local gangs tried to recruit him and made death threats against him.

He lived in the United States for nearly a decade – since he was a teenager – and made a life for himself here. Unfortunately, Javier was deported back to those same conditions he fled as a child. Upon return, he immediately faced violence, and, with his life in clear danger, Javier fled to the US for the second time in his young life. 

This is when CAIR Coalition met Javier. With the Maryland Universal Representation legal team beside him, Javier crafted a powerful, outstanding case – all while he was still in detention. In court, Javier and his team forged ahead, swiftly answering questions, and prevailed: after over six months of detention, the Immigration Judge granted Javier relief! The Department of Homeland Security also waived appeal, making the decision final and securing Javier’s hard-earned victory. Javier was ecstatic. He laughed, cried, thanked anyone who would listen, and called his mother to share the good news! 

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy


Julian's Story

When Julian* opened his own shop, he became a target for local gang extortion. As a result, Julian suffered horrific violence at the hands of the gang. He knew he was no longer safe and would not be protected, so he made the difficult decision to make the grueling trip North, all while suffering from the injuries he sustained. 

Julian lived and worked in the U.S. for a decade, taking classes for his GED along the way. After a brief run-in with U.S law enforcement, Julian was informed that years ago, he was issued an order for removal that he had never received. He was then detained. 

At this point, CAIR Coalition’s Legal Orientation Program’s (LOP) staff met Julian in an immigration detention facility. CAIR Coalition helped Julian Pro Se to reopen his case and stop deportation. Then, CAIR Coalition referred Julian’s case to one of our pro bono partners. Julian and his pro bono attorney worked tirelessly to build a powerful case. Thanks to their phenomenal work, Julian was granted relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). After two years in detention, Julian now lives in Virginia, free of fear. 

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy

Join Us

Want to support more adults detained by ICE as they fight for safety, security, and freedom? 

Check out our Get Involved page here for more information on volunteering, donating, pro bono work, and other ways to join our mission. 


Sign up to stay involved

Enter your e-mail to receive legal updates, action alerts, and more!